NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Rutgers University-New Brunswick scientists have created a graphene-based sensor that could lead to earlier detection of looming asthma attacks and improve the management of asthma and other respiratory diseases, preventing hospitalizations and deaths.
The sensor paves the way for the development of devices — possibly resembling fitness trackers like the Fitbit – which people could wear and then know when and at what dosage to take their medication.
“Our vision is to develop a device that someone with asthma or another respiratory disease can wear around their neck or on their wrist and blow into it periodically to predict the onset of an asthma attack or other problems,” said Mehdi Javanmard, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It advances the field of personalized and precision medicine.”
Javanmard and a diverse team of Rutgers-New Brunswick experts describe their invention in a study recently published online in the journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering.
Asthma, which causes inflammation of the airway and obstructs air flow, affects about 300 million people worldwide. About 17.7 million adults and 6.3 million children in the United States were diagnosed with asthma in 2014. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Other serious lung ailments include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Today’s noninvasive methods for diagnosing and monitoring asthma are limited in characterizing the nature and degree of airway inflammation, and require costly, bulky equipment that patients cannot easily keep with them. The methods include spirometry, which measures breathing capacity, and testing for exhaled nitric oxide, an indicator of airway inflammation. There’s an urgent need for improved, minimally invasive methods for the molecular diagnosis and monitoring of…