A team of researchers led by engineers from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. have developed what they are calling the “smart thread” diagnostic platform. As reported in Medical News Today, this new thread could form the basis of a new generation of implantable medical diagnostics and smart wearable devices.

The threads can be sutured through several layers of tissue to sample fluid. The network of circuits interface with biological tissues in three dimensions. Having collected the tiny samples of tissue fluid, the microfluidic threads measure various properties – such as pH and glucose – and send the data along electrically conductive threads to a flexible wireless transmitter on top of the skin.

Being able to measure such properties in three dimensions in live tissue in real time could be useful for a range of medical applications, such as monitoring wound healing, emerging infections or imbalances in the body’s chemistry.

The material needed to make smart thread is thin, flexible, inexpensive and easy to form into complex shapes. Thread-based devices could potentially be used as smart sutures post-surgery, smart bandages to monitor wound healing and personal health monitors.