Researchers Study Ways to Prolong the Life of Implanted Sensors

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A University of Arkansas professor and her colleagues will receive $1.3 million over four years to study the immune response to implanted sensors, such as glucose sensors for diabetics, in hopes of prolonging the life of these important monitoring systems.

Julie Stenken, professor and Twenty-First Century Chair in Proteomics in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, will lead the research team in looking at ways to modulate and monitor the “foreign body” response to implants. Collaborators on this grant include Jeannine Durdik, professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas, and Liping Tang, professor of bioengineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

All implanted materials, including implanted glucose sensors, elicit an immune response that leads to device encapsulation by the body. For implants such as glucose sensors, this encapsulation accompanied by inflammation limits the use of current FDA-approved implanted glucose sensors to 5 to 7 days. Scientists believe that cells derived from the immune system called macrophages may direct the inflammation and encapsulation around the implant. 

Stenken and her colleagues will use microdialysis sampling probes as glucose sensor mimics. The microdialysis sampling probes allow drugs to be delivered to the tissue/device interface to direct the macrophage cells to a wound-healing rather than wound-promoting state. Completion of this work will provide significant information to help researchers create and rapidly assess new and improved bioengineering approaches to reduce or eliminate the problems associated with implanted devices. Solving these problems will increase the time that implanted sensors can be used. 


Julie Stenken, professor of chemistry and biochemistry
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences

Melissa Blouin, director of science and research communication
University Relations

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