How it works

A new wearable wristband, sweat sensor could transform the diagnostics sector, as well as, drug evaluation for a number of conditions including cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and other conditions. Sweat has been researched as a new frontier for wearable technology considering its contents are quite revealing about up to date body processes.

Sweat can provide information on dehydration, muscle condition, stress and cholesterol levels and even depression. This new model only needs a trace of moisture to get going and does not require the patients to sit in one place for up to 30 minutes while it collects fluid. The device is being developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of California-Berkeley.

Sweat has been researched as a new frontier for wearable technology considering its contents are quite revealing about up to date body processes. Sweat can provide information on dehydration, muscle condition, stress and cholesterol levels, and even, depression.

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This new model only needs a trace of moisture to get going and does not require the patients to sit in one place for up to 30 minutes while it collects fluid. The device is being developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of California-Berkeley.

How this sweat wristband works

The system is two parts of flexible sensors and microprocessors that stick to the skin and stimulate the sweat glands in order to collect small amounts of perspiration. It works by analyzing molecular constituents of the wearer’s sweat including chloride ions and glucose, and then it electronically transmits the results for analysis and diagnosis. The team has used the wearable sweat sensor device in different research studies for the detection of chloride ion levels.

High levels are an indicator of cystic fibrosis and also for comparing levels of glucose in sweat to the one in blood. High blood glucose levels are a giveaway for diabetes.

According to Milla Carlos, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford, “This is a huge step forward.”

Conventional methods which have been used in the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that leads to the build-up of mucus in the lungs and other major organs, needs the patients to visit specialized centers and sit while electrodes stimulate sweat glands to provide sweat for the test.

This may be quite uncomfortable especially for children who have to sit still for half an hour while the devices collect sweat. According to the associate professor, the cumbersome method has not changed in the last 70 years. In comparison, this wearable sweat sensor stimulates the production of minute amounts of sweat and quickly analyses the contents, sending the data to a server which can interpret the results.

Personalization

Researchers hope the sensor could one day assist with the development of drugs and their customization for cystic fibrosis as well as other genetic disorders which are hard to treat. Cystic Fibrosis, for example, is caused by hundreds of random mutations in the CF gene which means it is possible to utilize the sensor for the determination of which drugs would work the best for which mutations.

Drugs for CF, for example, work on only a fraction of the patients. One can imagine if they were to utilize the wearable sweat sensor with individuals in clinical drug investigations, they would have a much better insight into the way their chloride ions go up and down in response to the drugs. The device is also self-contained and quite portable so it can potentially be used in tech challenged communities in the developing world.

The wearable would send measurements to a cloud server and receive the results back after review at a specialized center.

[See More: New Wearable Glucose Monitor Will Make Finger Pricking a Thing of the Past]

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