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Computerised sensors are to be used to monitor the health of patients in a UK trial due to begin by Christmas. The devices, powered by Pentium processors and invented by boffins at Scientists at Imperial College London, can measure changes in an individual's condition and send the data to doctors using a Bluetooth connection and a mobile phone link.

The Sunday Times reports that the sensors will initially be implanted in diabetics in trials at St Mary’s hospital, London due to begin at the end of the year. SMS messages would be sent to medical staff if a patient's blood-sugar level drops below a certain minimum. That does for a warning but what if a diabetic needs urgent medical attention?

Chris Toumazou, director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial, said that the sensor might eventually be linked with an insulin pump controlled by a doctor. Doctors hope the technology will also allow patients with other chronic diseases, such as heart and respiratory diseases, to lead near-normal lives. The technology could be adapted to monitor other changes in a patient's blood to look for signs of these diseases, potentially freeing up NHS resources. The Imperial team has also developed sensors that sit on a patient's skin to detect ailments like high blood pressure, hypothermia or motion.

Oracle is sponsoring the development of the kit which could even be developed into a "complete body sensor that could be implanted into normally healthy people to pick up early signs of disease," the Sunday Times reports. That's if the implants themselves don't cause disease, of course. ®

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