A wearable smart patch designed and manufactured in Australia will deliver precision data to help people personalise their diets and reduce their risk of lifestyle-related chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes.

The world-first personalised nutrition wearable patch being developed by Melbourne-based start-up Nutromics painlessly measures key dietary biomarkers and sends the information to an app, enabling users to precisely track their bodies’ response to different foods. A collaborative team led by Nutromics, RMIT University, Griffith University, and established medical device manufacturer Romar Engineering, with support from the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), is now developing the capabilities required to pilot manufacture the device.

Diabetes is one of the largest chronic health challenges globally, but with early interventions and lifestyle changes, the condition is often preventable. Nutromics co-CEO Peter Vranes said the smart patch leverages emerging technologies to empower people to take greater control of their health: “Research has shown that what we eat affects us all differently; two people might have the same meal but their post-meal response can vary wildly. People want to make healthy food choices but with so much conflicting nutrition advice, many of us are confused. Being able to easily monitor key dietary biomarkers will give you the knowledge to personalise your diet to suit your own body, get healthy and stay healthy.”

The smart patch combines a complex sensing platform and stretchable electronics for improved conformity to skin. The fabrication of sample collection will be led by Griffith University and Romar Engineering, with sensor integration and stretchable electronics fabrication undertaken at RMIT’s cutting-edge Micro Nano Research Facility.

Professor Sharath Sriram, Research Co-Director of RMIT’s Functional Materials & Microsystems Research Group, said RMIT researchers would integrate the technologies in a prototype smart patch manufactured via roll-to-roll (R2R) printing.

“This smart patch is a significant evolution in wearable health monitoring technology,” he said. “Current wearable technologies can track your heart rate and steps, but they can’t monitor your health at a molecular level. This technology goes deeper, targeting the precise biomarkers that drive lifestyle-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes.”

David Chuter, CEO and Managing Director at the IMCRC, said the project would build Australia’s capability in medical technologies manufacturing and improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of the advanced manufacturing sector: “The manufacturing challenges addressed by this project will not only help deliver a low-cost, high-tech smart patch, but will also create technologies that are transferable to other Australian companies in the consumer and medical tech space.”

Alan Lipman, CEO of Romar, said collaboration was the way forward for Australian manufacturing: “Working with entrepreneurs, academics and researchers to develop new medical technologies is essential to maintain Australia’s international competitiveness and to build a strong domestic manufacturing skills base.”