The sutures are made from a variety of different materials including cotton and synthetics and are dipped in physical and chemical sensing compounds that connect to a wireless electronic circuit. These unique nanosensors create a flexible platform that has currently been successfully sutured into tissue in rats as well as in vitro.
When in operation, the tiny sensors transmit several pieces of biometric data including the temperature around the wound, its pH balance and glucose levels to name but a few. It can also track how well the stitches are holding and whether there is too much pressure or strain on the wound.
“The ability to suture a thread-based diagnostic device intimately in a tissue or organ environment in three dimensions adds a unique feature that is not available with other flexible diagnostic platforms,” said Sameer Sonkusale, Ph.D., Director of the interdisciplinary Nano Lab at Tufts.
“We think thread-based devices could potentially be used as smart sutures for surgical implants, smart bandages to monitor wound healing, or integrated with textile or fabric as personalized health monitors and point-of-care diagnostics,” he said.
The smart sutures are still in the research stage, but the promising data collected so far indicates a positive future for biometric tracking in humans.