Thanks to an unorthodox approach being proposed by EPFL researchers, patients may soon be able to track their illness simply by drinking a solution containing millions of tiny electronic sensors disguised as bacteria.

Imagine being able to track the development of diseased cells in real time, simply by having patients drink a glass of water containing millions of tiny electronic biosensors. Once the microscopic sensors have been ingested, they would travel to diseased tissue in a patient’s body and send out a continuous stream of diagnostic data via telemetry.

That’s the ambitious goal that Sandro Carrara from EPFL’s Integrated Systems Laboratory (School of Engineering/ Computer and Communication Sciences) and Pantelis Georgiou from Imperial College London have set for themselves. Such technology seems now possible thanks to advancements in nanofabrication processes for integrated circuits. Berkeley researchers had discussed a similar concept in 2013 where they suggested to sprinkle CMOS circuits into the human cortex to monitor neural activity.

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