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Pakistanis design microchip to make polio vaccine more secure

Islamabad

May 1, 2019

Islamabad : Pakistani scientist Prof. Dr. Rashad Ramzan -- a senior faculty member at FAST National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (FAST-NUCES)—has designed and implemented an electro-magnetic microchip that will enable continuous monitoring of the temperature of polio vaccine while also maintaining a complete log to indicate whether the vaccine in a particular vial is fit for use or not.

Dr. Rashad has been granted the US patent for inventing a 2x2mm electromagnetic chip having all the features of wireless power transfer, temperature sensing, data processing and storage, and communication—all integrated into a single-chip. Such integration eliminates the need for any human interference. The basic research for this work was funded by the UAE University Alain, UAE. The scientist is now looking towards the government for financial assistance to carry the work further.

According to Dr. Rashad, the idea of the patent was generated when he saw news alerts about the polio outbreak in Pakistan in 2010-11. In order to preserve the efficacy of the vaccine, it must be stored in the temperature range of 2°C to 8°C, ideally 5°C. So in hot climates, temperature control and monitoring are as important as the vaccines themselves. Currently, individual temperature of each vaccine bottle is monitored with a chemical temperature tag. These tags change its colour when the temperature exceeds the intended temperature range. But there is no information about the time when the increase in temperature occurred and how large and how frequent were the temperature excursions.

In order to overcome this problem, Dr. Rashad and his team, in collaboration with Dr. Arslan of PAF KIET, Karachi, have designed and implemented an immersible CMOS single-chip tag that continuously monitors vaccine temperature and maintains a log to indicate whether the vaccine in a particular vial is fit for use or not. The specialty of the tag is that it is extremely small in size and is directly dipped in the vaccine solution.

Dr. Rashad stated that they used the magnetic resonance to wirelessly power up the temperature tags when they are dipped inside the vaccine. The magnetic waves do not attenuate and interact with common materials and have no adverse effect on the vaccines.

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