Wearable Transcutaneous Microsensor for Continuous “in situ” Monitoring of Biomarkers

A schematic view of the label-free flexible microsensor and its insertion into the skin.

Invention Summary:

The ability to measure peptide/protein biomarkers in bodily fluids “in situ” can enable continuous health monitoring. The current gold-standard for protein quantification in laboratory tests is enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which typically relies on optical fluorescence, and labeling of complementary molecules, resulting in lengthier and more costly testing.

A team of scientists from Rutgers and U Penn has invented a minimally invasive, flexible, transcutaneous microsensor that is capable of performing “in situ” detection of peptide/protein biomarkers present in the human blood stream while overcoming the limitations of traditional ELISA. This microsensor can be inserted subcutaneously to come into direct contact with the blood stream. The tip of the needle utilizes a micro-well array configuration, when in contact with a peptide/protein biomarker of interest in the blood, binding of the biomarker to the capture molecule (e.g. an antibody) immobilized in the micro-wells causes a change of impedance in the micro-wells. With a unique built-in mechanism, continuous detection of the presence of biomarkers in the blood stream can be performed. Such real-time detection of the target biomarker can be achieved up to femto molar (10-15 mol/L) sensitivity. The inventors have demonstrated the capability of a prototype microsensor to detect the presence of TNF-α in skin phantom at 1 nM (10-9 mol/L) sensitivity.

Market Applications:

in situ” diagnostics for minimally invasive transcutaneous monitoring of proteins/cytokines/hormones and other biomarkers present in blood.


  • Flexible microneedle
  • Minimally invasive
  • Realtime monitoring of blood proteins/cytokines
  • Label-free detection using changes in impedance as the read out
  • Works under high salt condition (e.g. in serum)
  • Highly sensitive (10-15 mol/L)

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent Pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.


Song N, Xie P, Shen W, Javanmard M and Allen MF. Microwell-array on a flexible needle:  A transcutaneous insertable impedance sensor for label-free cytokine detection. MEMS 2018 IEEE.


Rutgers ID: 2018-059
Physical Sciences
Medical Devices
Lisa Lyu
Licensing Manager
Mehdi Javanmard
Pengfei Xie
Mark Allen
Wen Shen
Naixin Song