Imec ITF: Electronics in healthcare — new possibilities, more efficiency

by Jan Provoost, science editor, imec Click to Enlarge

May 26, 2011 – At imec’s technology forum, Eric Dy, business development manager at imec, talked about the opportunities that advanced electronics can create in healthcare — to improve the efficiency and cost of the current medical practice, but also opportunities for new, disruptive research and treatments.

Currently, 70% of the diagnostic decisions are based on the results of lab tests. Molecular diagnostics often involves labor-intensive work with expensive machines. Considering the results of R&D work in imec and other research centra on labs-on-chip, there is a huge opportunity here to replace some of the tasks in the labs with mass-produced point-of-care equipment that give immediate feedback.

Going a step further: if we can mass-produce microdevices for molecular diagnostics, then the medical community will have access to a large amount of data that they can use to develop more predictive and personal treatments. Treatments that are based on cheap, personal molecular diagnostics.

imec is one of the few research centres where all the expertise and abilities needed to create the next wave of e-health comes together, Dy pointed out. Innovative circuit design, biosensors, wireless R&D, low-power ICs, biointerfacing — all are present, connected in an R&D ecosystem including such stakeholders as hospitals and medical device manufacturers.

Dy also showcased some of the technologies that will benefit the medical research community. One of the highlights is interfacing between biology and electronics. An example is a platform for high-content screening of molecules and tissues, consisting of an IC with a surface that allows cells to attach and grow, and to communicate through microsized electrodes with the underlying circuitry. Electronics as these will, according to Eric Dy, "help scientists do research that was not possible to do before."

CMOS chip with micronail electrode array for single-
cell stimulation and recording. (Source: imec)


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