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Wearable Sensor Accurately Measures Biomarker Concentrations in Sweat Samples

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 09 Jan 2024
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Image: The two-channel sensor measures biomarker concentration in sweat (Photo courtesy of Penn State)
Image: The two-channel sensor measures biomarker concentration in sweat (Photo courtesy of Penn State)

Skin-applied sensors are emerging as a non-intrusive, affordable method for detecting vital biomarkers in sweat, aiding clinicians in making prompt and precise diagnoses. However, until now, these sensors could only identify the presence of biomarkers and struggled with accurately detecting their concentrations due to the sporadic and unpredictable nature of sweat production. To address this challenge, a team of scientists has introduced a sensor that precisely measures biomarker concentrations in sweat samples.

The research team from Penn State (University Park, PA, USA) designed a dual-channel sensor for capturing sweat. One channel is tasked with measuring the biomarker level, while the other assesses the sweat volume. This sensor employs a dye that reacts to the presence of the biomarker and produces a visible indication, allowing for a simple, equipment-free reading. This feature makes the sensor particularly beneficial in remote settings where advanced technological resources may be scarce. Detecting the concentration of a biomarker is critical for accurate diagnostics. For instance, the team has proposed their sensor's application in diagnosing conditions like cystic fibrosis, typically characterized by elevated chloride levels in the patient.

“The typical course of action to diagnose cystic fibrosis is to induce a local sweat through exercise, but with our sensor, we can detect the chloride concentration in sweat without requiring the patient to exercise, since we can use passive heat-induced sweating with our wearable form of the testing setup,” said Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, the James L. Henderson, Jr. Memorial Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State.

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