Health in the digital age: biomarkers that transform the skin into a data platform

Health News

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the health sector, accelerating in just a few months projects to promote telemedicine, hospitalization at home … one proof is that the same week in March in which the confinement began in Spain, The startup Onalabs presented a project focused on home hospitalization at the CDTI . It is about the development, in collaboration with the Hospital de Can Ruti (Badalona), of an intelligent remote biometric device , which in June began to be tested with volunteers to start the pilot phase.

“It is a system to monitor and carry out continuous follow-up of different vital signs of the patient at home to avoid their travel to the emergency room or hospital or, at least, these are the least possible”, explains Cardona.

Thus, in this first phase, it is able to monitor temperature , heart rate , oxygen saturation , movements and falls of the patient. In addition, in the second phase it will be supplemented with respiratory rate and, the “great challenge”, blood pressure , for which they are collaborating with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.

“All these measurements are carried out continuously, so that the medical team can receive and read the data in real time, but it is also planned to implement alerts to notify any anomaly that is registered”, stresses Cardona.

The idea of ​​this startup is to develop a device of small dimensions and that “be just one” to measure all these constants, points out the CEO of Onalabs. “It is a small ‘letter to the Kings’, which in the worst case would remain in two devices, which we hope will be very miniaturized, for example, bracelet type.”

Neonates and diabetes
And this is possible thanks to the four patents applied for on its sensors. These thus become the pillars on the Onalabs emerged at the end of 2016, with a project with the Vall d’Hebron Hospital to develop a device capable of monitoring different biomarkers in neonates through sweat, a “less aggressive” process for infants. smaller than blood draw.

However, this project remained on standby because it was not economically viable at the beginning of the company. “We want to develop it, but, for the moment, we have parked until Onalabs has a guaranteed economic sustainability”, remarks Cardona.

Based on this idea, the founders of the startup, Elisabet del Valle and Xavier Muñoz, turned at the beginning of 2019 towards glucose monitoring through sweat. ” Diabetes is the great market in health and a basic area to develop,” says Cardona.

Specifically, two devices have been developed, one for gestational diabetes and the other for type 1, with sensors capable of measuring glucose levels, to “control them at any time”, through sweat. These biochemical sensors, developed in collaboration with the University of Burgos , which convert the biomarker signal into an electrical signal, allowing digital readings of these measurements.

More efficient sports training
Other business areas in which Onalabs is focusing is the monitoring of lactate through sweat , especially focused on the world of sports, to “measure muscle efficiency and performance so that training can be carried out efficiently. more efficient way ”.

Onalabs has already developed a prototype of this device and has carried out validation tests in stress tests with different types of athletes, so it only needs a series of technological integrations to go on the market in 2021. In this process, the Catalan startup is collaborating with the San Cugat High Performance Center and with the National Institute of Physical Education .

It is a device in a patch format that is placed on the chest area and is connected via bluetooth with an athlete’s smartwatch , as well as with a mobile phone. In addition, it has a single-use lactate sensor , so it must be changed in each training or competition in which it is used.

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