ELSAH is an EU-funded four-year collaborative project in the area of electronic smart systems that started in January 2019. Our objective is to develop and demonstrate an integrated wearable sensor system (the ‘ELSAH-patch’) for continuous monitoring of molecular biomarker concentrations. By adding molecular detection to their sensing capabilities, we will for the first time realize wearables that provide truly evidence-based support to healthy living. This will lead to better health and well-being, which in turn can be expected to also cause a reduction in the prevalence of diseases of affluence like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

While currently available wearables rely on monitoring physiological parameters such as the heart rate, an in-depth analysis requires continuous quantification of molecular biomarkers, which naturally entails direct contact with the user’s biofluids. To that end, blood is generally regarded as the gold reference biofluid, but blood sampling is an invasive technique that is incompatible to the needs of wearables users. To overcome this hurdle, a number of wearables are currently in development that make use of non-invasive biofluids such as sweat, saliva or ocular fluid, but these systems generally struggle with specific challenges linked to the nature of the non-invasive sample type, including for example ill-defined correlations of biomarker concentrations. In ELSAH, we are targeting minimally invasive sampling of the dermal interstitial fluid (ISF), which has been proven to be highly similar in biomarker composition to blood. We will probe the ISF by microneedles that have been validated as pain-free. Consequently, we are positive that our approach is most promising for integrating continuous monitoring of biomarkers into wearables for healthcare and well-being applications. We will realize a flexible and integrated smart patch-based wearable sensor system (‘ELSAH-patch’) that quantifies several molecular biomarkers in parallel by minimally invasive microneedle-based sampling and electrochemical detection. The ELSAH-patch will be fully self-sustained by integrating the microneedle biosensor with a microchip, a printed battery and printed electronics (interconnects and antenna structures), thereby enabling independent measurements and secure wireless data transmission to the user’s mobile phone. To demonstrate our ELSHA-patch, we choose the two biomarkers glucose and lactate, which are amongst the most established and prominent biomarkers to support a healthy lifestyle.

The ELSAH project consortium unites the interdisciplinary expertise required to achieve our ambitious objectives and brings together ten leading partners from five European countries, including three research institutions, two universities and five companies (two large companies and three SMEs).