Doctors could continuously monitor the characteristics of a critically ill patient’s blood using a new device being developed in the UK.
The MicroEye, from Bedfordshire-based Probe Scientific, would fit inside traditional IV catheters inserted into the veins of intensive-care patients.
The device incorporates a semi-permeable membrane, which sits in the vein of a patient, and a biosensor located outside the body to measure blood characteristics such as glucose, potassium and urea levels.
The technology, which is still under development, recently received £1m worth of venture capital funding to bring it closer to commercialisation.
Neil Smith, chief executive of Probe, said the device begins to work when saline is flowed into the patient’s vein through the catheter. The membrane, which separates the stream of saline from the flowing blood in the vein, allows only certain parts of the blood – not including red blood cells – to pass through.
He said: 'We collect the analytes of interest such as glucose, potassium, lactate, urea and things the doctors are interested in. No red cells pass across so there is no infection risk passing across.’
The sample is then flowed out of the body through the saline solution and taken to a biosensor where it is analysed.
Smith said ideally the results would be displayed on the same screen a patient’s pulse and ECG is monitored.
Probe Scientific recently received £1m from a funding round led by Catapult Venture Managers and supported by National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts and existing shareholders and directors.
Smith said the funds will help the company integrate the MicroEye device with current ICU data and display systems. A large degree of focus will be put on the device’s biosensor.
He added: ‘There are biosensors that exist but obviously with our device being new they are not immediately available to just click and couple to our device. We have to build the linkage between them and the algorithm that displays the result.’
Smith said the sampling device that sits inside the catheter has already received a CE mark and Probe has sold units of them to sensor companies and researchers. ‘However, the really big market for us is in intensive care,’ he said.
Probe believes its recent funding will put it in a better position to develop the technology for this market and negotiate licensing deals.