Smartwatch Technology Controls Insulin Production

By Anthony K

Scholars from ETH Zurich have innovated a gene switch operated through the green light that commercial smartwatches emit. Commonly, the Green LED light is applied to detect the pulse rate. These scholars have developed a new approach that could be used in the treatment of diabetes.

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Today, smartwatches have gained much popularity, and the team of scholars is leveraging this popularity through LEDs to change and control the cell’s behavior through the skin. The team led by Martin Fussenegger asserts that since there is no naturally occurring molecular system in the human cells that responds to green light, they had to innovate something new. They developed a molecular switch that is capable of being activated by a smartwatches’ green light. They linked the switch with a gene network that they introduced in human cells.

For their prototype, the team utilized the HEK 293 cells, which can produce insulin on exposure to green light depending on the configuration. The switch is deactivated when the green light is turned off. This halts the process.

The scholars didn’t develop any sophisticated software for their system, but instead, they used the standard smartwatch software. The researchers turned on the green light by starting the running app during the testing process. According to the team an, off-the-shelf watch provides a universal solution to push the molecular switch.

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Particularly, the molecular switch is more intricate, having a molecule complex joined inside the cells’ membrane connected to a joining piece, kind of a railway carriage.  After the emission of the green light, the element projecting into the cell detaches and is transported into the nucleus of the triggering gene that produces insulin. On the other hand, when the green light is off, the disconnected piece re-joins with its counterparts entrenched in the membrane.