The EU-funded project IV-Lab, coordinated by the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT-Italian Institute of Technology), has officially launched. This innovative project aims to develop a multi-sensing device that can be implanted into blood vessels, such as peripheral veins or arteries, to monitor various body parameters and the overall health of individuals. Once implanted in patients with cardiovascular diseases, the microsensor system will create a versatile platform capable of detecting both hemodynamic and biochemical parameters.

The IV-Lab project, which stands for “In-vessel implantable smart sensing device for personalized medicine,” has secured more than 4 million euros from the European Innovation Council (EIC) under the Horizon Europe program for research and innovation. Coordinated by Virgilio Mattoli, a researcher at IIT in Pisa, the project involves several IIT groups: the Soft Micro-Electronic Materials Group at the Center for Materials Interfaces (CMI) in Pontedera, the Printed and Molecular Electronics group in Milan, and the Electronic Design Laboratory in Genoa.

The miniaturized sensing device aims to provide continuous monitoring of various parameters related to blood vessel health and patient well-being. Unlike existing sensors on the market or in literature, the new device will integrate multiple sensors within a compact platform measuring just 1cm to 2cm in length and 2mm to 4mm in diameter. This integration, facilitated by advanced fabrication techniques, is one of the project’s most innovative aspects. These techniques enable the fabrication of microscale sensors and their transfer, assembly, and connection onto the supporting frame. The sensors will measure blood pressure, vessel deformation, oximetry, hematocrit, and detect specific cardiovascular biomarkers.

The primary objective, aligning with the project’s long-term vision, is to provide physicians with crucial information remotely for rapid and early intervention against heart failures in patients. The implanted system will connect to and be powered by an external data collection and communication system, either through standardized wireless technology or via a smartphone for asynchronous on-demand monitoring. The platform’s extremely small size should allow future implantation via simple catheterization on a peripheral vein.

To ensure the technology’s future applicability, a significant portion of the project focuses on evaluating the developed prototype’s performance through specific lab tests, with careful consideration given to biocompatibility assessments and other medical aspects.

“The device,” explains Virgilio Mattoli, IIT researcher and IV-LAB coordinator, “will find important applications in the field of cardiovascular disease, particularly in patients where the detection of hemodynamic behavior and specific biomarkers could reduce rehospitalization and mortality, such as heart failure or coronary restenosis after stent implantation.”

In the future, the system has the potential to monitor disease progression and outcomes, empowering physicians to deliver timely and personalized treatment. According to the researchers’ vision, the implanted micro-sensor system would be fully integrated into cloud networks, enabling the tracking and analysis of multiple sensor signals by Artificial Intelligence software. This would alert clinicians to abnormal values, facilitating the implementation of concrete prevention protocols for various other diseases.

In addition to IIT, the IV-Lab consortium includes the National Research Council – CNR (Italy), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia – IBEC (Spain), and the University of Stuttgart – USTUTT (Germany).

By Impact Lab