In Brief
DARPA gave a $7.5 million grant to biotech company Profusa to further develop its biosensors that can give real-time updates on the health status of soldiers in battle.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army Research Office gave a $7.5 million grant to biotech company Profusa, to further develop its implantable biosensors that will continue monitoring multiple body chemistries.

Health Status Updates On-The-Go

The U.S. military sees that the technology has the potential of improving mission efficiency through real-time monitoring of combat soldier health status.

“Profusa’s vision is to replace a point-in-time chemistry panel that measures multiple bio­markers, such as oxygen, glucose, lactate, urea, and ions with a biosensor that provides a continuous stream of wireless data,” Ben Hwang, PhD, Profusa’s chairman and CEO, said in a news release.

Under The Skin

The goal is for Profusa’s biosensors to overcome foreign body responses by fully integrating within the body’s tissue—without any metal device or electronics. The sensors are made of a bioengineered “smart hydrogel” that is similar to contact lens material, forming a porous, tissue-integrating scaffold. When exposed to light, the hydrogel is able to luminesce in proportion to the concentration of a specific chemical—oxygen, glucose, or another biomarker.

The biosensors are tiny – each only between 2 mm to 5 mm long and 200 to 500 microns in diameter. They are placed under the skin with a specially designed injector.

Profusa’s first product, its Lumee sensor for measuring oxygen, is slated to debut in Europe this year.