Medical sensor manufacturing companies are collaborating and partnering with medical devices companies and research universities to develop new products with sensors for diagnosis and treatment and assist patient monitoring. For example, in 2018, LEO Science & Tech Hub, a unit of Danish LEO Pharma, collaborated with US-based skin sensors developer, Epicore Biosystems, to investigate a non-invasive, wearable sweat sensor. The partners will explore the use of the sweat sensor with real-time identification of skin hydration and disease-specific biomarker responses to enable personalized treatments for patients. A biomarker is a measurable indicator of the severity or presence of some disease state.
Similarly, in 2017, Abbott and Bigfoot Biomedical collaborated to develop and commercialize diabetes management systems. The system consists of Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre glucose sensing technology and Bigfoot’s insulin delivery solutions. Abbott was responsible for supplying glucose measurement sensors for Bigfoot’s insulin delivery systems in the US, as the exclusive sensors for those systems.
Again, in 2016, Shimmer Sensing, a leading provider of medical grade wearable wireless sensors partnered with Harvard’s Wyss Institute for research in the field of remote patient monitoring using the wearable sensing technology. Wyss Institute developed the latest version of the MercuryLive platform, a web-enhanced extension to a body sensor network platform for continuous home-based body motion sensing, to support remote monitoring of patients using live streaming of the wearable sensor data and an interactive video feed.
The global medical sensors market, valued at around $14 billion in 2019, will grow to $20 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2%.
Medical sensors are increasingly being used in wearables for diagnostic purposes. Wearables are medical devices attached to body parts such as the head, feet, arms, wrists and waist, or embedded into clothing. Sensors monitor physiological parameters such as heart rate or blood glucose levels. Use of sensors in wearables gives better health outcomes by tracking patient’s activities. In 2018, Australian National University (ANU) researchers developed optical sensors to be used in wearable medical devices to diagnose various diseases such as diabetes, facilitating monitoring of people’s health. The sensors comprise a combination of tiny gold nanostructures and semiconductors formulated to allow detection of low concentrations of gas molecules emitted through human skin and breath.
Other new diagnostic wearables include body-worn sensors developed by the Newcastle University that can assess gait and potentially detect Alzheimer’s disease early. These sensors assess clinical biomarkers such as changes in walking characteristics and behaviors which are early signs of dementia. Clinical biomarkers track the presence of some diseased state in the body.