Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Trends in Biotechnology, 2019

doi 10.1016/j.tibtech.2019.04.001

PMID: 31072609


Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Wearable healthcare devices are mainly used for biosensing and transdermal delivery. Recent advances in wearable biosensors allow for long-term and real-time monitoring of physiological conditions at a cellular resolution. Transdermal drug delivery systems have been further scaled down, enabling wide selections of cargo, from natural molecules (e.g., insulin and glucose) to bioengineered molecules (e.g., nanoparticles). Some emerging nanopatches show promise for precise single-cell gene transfection in vivo and have advantages over conventional tools in terms of delivery efficiency, safety, and controllability of delivered dose. In this review, we discuss recent technical advances in wearable micro/nano devices with unique capabilities or potential for single-cell biosensing and transfection in the skin or other organs, and suggest future directions for these fields.


• Current wearable sensors have allowed for long-term, real-time detection of specific biomarkers directly from patients.

• Miniaturized wearable biosensors with sensing elements interacting with skin or organs can capture target molecules from single cells, which results in significantly increased sensitivity, responding time, and precision.

• Emerging wearable devices based on novel nanomaterials or nanofabrication show potential for single-cell detection in cancer cell screening, cardiomyocyte detection, and optogenetics.

• Transdermal delivery devices have been scaled down to the micro- and/or nanoscale, and their applications have extended to wide selections of natural molecules and bioengineered molecules.

• Emerging nanodevices show unique capabilities in precise single-cell gene transfection in vivo, with improved delivery efficiency, safety, and dose controllability.