UCLA Life Sciences | December 7, 2022


A collaborative team of UCLA researchers are developing a wearable sensor that could monitor levels of drugs and metabolites within a patient – and tailor drug-dosing to the specific and real-time needs of that individual.

Here, Hilary Coller, a Life Sciences professor and collaborator on the project, provides an overview of this research, and shares how she got involved.

UCLA Life Science Researchers


Q: Would you briefly describe what’s most exciting about this wearable sensor?

A: The technology being developed in the Emaminejad lab is extremely exciting, and has enormous potential. The patches they’re developing could provide doctors with real-time information on how individual patients are metabolizing drugs, and whether specific metabolites have accumulated above a safe level. These sensors have the potential to become the standard-of-care after drugs are administered.


Q: As a collaborator, how were you involved in this research?

A: Professor Emaminejad’s laboratory is developing a wearable sensor that can continuously record the concentrations of different molecules in the body. Members of my lab, led by research associate David Jelinek, Ph.D., have been collaborating to test the biological feasibility of the microneedles used in these sensors. We conducted tests to see whether the components, or the needles themselves, result in cell death. The results provide valuable information on whether the sensors are safe for human cells.


Q: How did this collaboration come about?

A:  Professor Emaminejad and I initially met through our mutual interest in understanding how wounds heal.  We were both interested in learning the metabolic aspects of wound healing in pressure ulcers, and other pathologies that result in a failure to heal. Our labs have been working together to understand the changes that occur during the wound healing process. In addition to drug levels in patients, we are also interested in how the levels of their different metabolites change over time. Such information could be extremely valuable, for instance, in identifying patients who require immediate attention, or those who show signs of metabolic distress, for instance, from an invisible but progressing pressure ulcer.


Q: How does this research align with the research you do?

A: My laboratory has been studying the changes that occur, as cells transition between proliferating and non-dividing, quiescent states. Our particular focus is on the proliferating and quiescent states of skin cells, called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are important in organizing the wound healing response. To understand wound healing, we’ve been collecting cells from healing and non-healing wounds of different patients to better understand the metabolic aspects of wound healing– in pressure ulcers, and other pathologies that involve a failure to heal.


Read more in this UCLA Newsroom article:  https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/wearable-sensor-precision-drug-dosing