There are numerous things to dislike about going to the doctor: Paying a copay, sitting in the waiting room, out-of-date magazines, sick people coughing without covering their mouths. For many, though, the worst thing about a doctor’s visit is getting stuck with a needle. Blood tests are a tried-and-true way of evaluating what is going on with your body, but the discomfort is unavoidable. Or maybe not, say Caltech scientists.
In a new paper published in Nature Biotechnology, researchers led by Wei Gao, assistant professor of medical engineering, describe a mass-producible wearable sensor that can monitor levels of metabolites and nutrients in a person’s blood by analyzing their sweat. Previously developed sweat sensors mostly target compounds that appear in high concentrations, such as electrolytes, glucose, and lactate. Gao’s sweat sensor is more sensitive than current devices and can detect sweat compounds of much lower concentrations, in addition to being easier to manufacture, the researchers say.
The development of such sensors would allow doctors to continuously monitor the condition of patients with illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, all of which result in abnormal levels of nutrients or metabolites in the bloodstream. Patients would benefit from having their physician better informed of their condition, while also avoiding invasive and painful encounters with hypodermic needles.
“Such wearable sweat sensors have the potential to rapidly, continuously, and noninvasively capture changes in health at molecular levels,” Gao says. “They could enable personalized monitoring, early diagnosis, and timely intervention.”
Gao’s work is focused on developing devices based on microfluidics, a name for technologies that manipulate tiny amounts of liquids, usually through channels less than a quarter of a millimeter in width. Microfluidics are ideal for an application of this sort because they minimize the influence of sweat evaporation and skin contamination on the sensing accuracy. As freshly supplied sweat flows through the microchannels, the device can make more accurate measurements of sweat and can capture temporal changes in concentrations.
Until now, Gao and his colleagues say, microfluidic-based wearable sensors were mostly fabricated with a lithography-evaporation process, which requires complicated and expensive fabrication processes. His team instead opted to make their biosensors out of graphene, a sheet-like form of carbon. Both the graphene-based sensors and the tiny microfluidics channels are created by engraving the plastic sheets with a carbon dioxide laser, a device that is now so common that it is available to home hobbyists.
The research team opted to have their sensor measure respiratory rate, heart rate, and levels of uric acid and tyrosine. Tyrosine was chosen because it can be an indicator of metabolic disorders, liver disease, eating disorders, and neuropsychiatric conditions. Uric acid was chosen because, at elevated levels, it is associated with gout, a painful joint condition that is on the rise globally. Gout occurs when high levels of uric acid in the body begin crystallizing in the joints, particularly those of the feet, causing irritation and inflammation.
To see how well the sensors performed, the researchers ran a series of tests with healthy individuals and patients. To check sweat tyrosine levels, which are influenced by a person’s physical fitness, they used two groups of people: trained athletes and individuals of average fitness. As expected, the sensors showed lower levels of tyrosine in the sweat of the athletes. To check uric acid levels, they took a group of healthy individuals and monitored their sweat while they were fasting as well as after they ate a meal rich in purines, compounds in food that are metabolized into uric acid. The sensor showed uric acid levels rising after the meal. Gao’s team also performed a similar test with gout patients. Their uric acid levels, the sensor showed, were much higher than those of healthy people.
To check the accuracy of the sensors, the researchers also drew blood samples from the gout patients and healthy subjects. The sensors’ measurements of uric acid levels strongly correlated with levels of the compound in the blood.
Gao says the high sensitivity of the sensors, along with the ease with which they can be manufactured, means they could eventually be used by patients at home to monitor conditions like gout, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Having accurate real-time information about their health could even allow a patient to adjust their own medication levels and diet as required.
“Considering that abnormal circulating nutrients and metabolites are related to a number of health conditions, the information collected from such wearable sensors will be invaluable for both research and medical treatment,” Gao says.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- The hot new COVID tech is wearable and constantly tracks youon November 21, 2020 at 11:00 am
In Rochester, Michigan, Oakland University is preparing to hand out wearable devices to students that log skin temperature once a minute — or more than 1,400 times per day — in the hopes of ...
- Garmin wearable tech early Black Friday deals start nowon November 21, 2020 at 7:29 am
Black Friday falls on November 27th this year but you don't have to wait until then to pick up some great savings on Garmin wearables.
- Kat VR is about to release a new version of its VR locomotion sensorson November 20, 2020 at 8:47 pm
Kat VR is accepting pre-orders for its new Loco S locomotion tracking sensors. The system lets you walk in place to move in-game.
- How Energy Harvesting is Enabling New Possibilities for Medical Wearable Deviceson November 19, 2020 at 2:24 pm
Healthcare facilities and hospitals use connected IoT devices for a wide range of use cases, including giving wearable medical devices to patients as an easy way to monitor their from anywhere.
- Shimmer Research Wins 2020 Best of Sensors Award for its Verisense Wearable Sensing Platform Developed Specifically for Clinical Trialson November 19, 2020 at 12:12 pm
The Verisense platform provides complete, high quality, reproducible clinical trial data, while placing minimum burden on sponsors, CROs, site staff and participants Shimmer Research, a global leader ...
- Wearable Sensors Market Analytical Overview, Growth Factors, Demand, Trends and Forecast to 2026on November 18, 2020 at 11:47 am
Global Wearable Sensors Market Report added by MarketstudyReport.com offers industry size, growth, trends and forecast analysis up to 2026. Wearable Sensors Market Report also covers top key players, ...
- ams Presents Advances in Lateral Flow Technology for Pandemic Control at Sensor Innovation Weekon November 17, 2020 at 9:03 am
(SIX: AMS), a leading worldwide supplier of high-performance sensor solutions, is driving efforts that will enable large-scale, fast, and highly reliable COVID-19 testing at the point of care (POC).
- New COVID tech is wearable and constantly tracks the weareron November 16, 2020 at 4:56 pm
They also caution that some wearable sensors could enable employers, colleges or law enforcement agencies to reconstruct people’s locations or social networks, chilling their ability to meet and speak ...
- Cornell stretchable sensor could redefine soft robotics and virtual realityon November 16, 2020 at 2:03 am
Cornell researchers have created a fiber-optic sensor utilizing inexpensive LEDs and dyes that resulted in a stretchable skin-like material able to detect deformations, including pressure, ...
- This wearable sensor could survive washing machine, cars, and hammerson November 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm
Think about your favorite t-shirt, the one you have worn a hundred times, and all the abuse you’ve put it through. You have washed it more times than you can remember, spilled on it, stretched it, ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- The Best Black Friday Fitness Deals for 2020on November 21, 2020 at 7:45 am
The fitness industry tends to save its best deals for December and January, when people are really starting to lean into the whole “new year, new you” idea—and need the tools to do it. As the COVID-19 ...
- Mouse Designs that will elevate every gadget lover’s desktop: Part 2on November 18, 2020 at 3:40 am
Traditionally speaking, a computer mouse does not get enough attention to the visual impact these gadgets can make to our setup. Sure, we look for productive designs and most of them refer to a mass ...
- The best headphones for 2020on November 17, 2020 at 12:24 am
Wear sensors that automatically pause the music when you slide ... Now let’s remind ourselves of their top drawbacks: Mediocre sound, no noise cancellation, and no water- or sweat-resistance. Guess ...
- Living with heaton November 12, 2020 at 7:19 pm
Studies are probing how heat threatens health—and how to lower the risks. Sweat plays an important role in cooling the body, so researchers are capturing and measuring it. It's 5 a.m. and still dark ...
- Garmin Venu Sq v Fitbit Sense: stress sensing sports watches comparedon November 12, 2020 at 5:39 am
When it comes to health and fitness smartwatches, the Fitbit Sense and Venu Sq have a lot in common at very different price points. Both pack in advance ...
- Why This New Technology Inspired by Camel Fur Is Super Coolon November 11, 2020 at 8:07 am
A two-layered material that mimics the animals’ sweat glands and insulating fur chills surfaces 400 percent longer than traditional methods ...
- Wearable Sensors Printed Directly on the Body Without Heaton November 10, 2020 at 11:37 pm
Researchers can print sensors directly onto human skin in a new way that doesn’t require the use of heat. Researchers have already developed wearable sensors that can be worn like a second skin to ...
- Apple Wins a Patent for Filtering Unintended Contacts on an Apple Watch with Wet Clothing that Drains Battery Lifeon November 10, 2020 at 5:03 am
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of xx newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover to touch input processing for touch-sensitive ...
- New Sensors Fuse Wearables with the Human Bodyon October 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Berkeley reported a new kind of wearable sensor that can measure sodium, potassium, glucose, and lactate levels in a person’s sweat. The new sensor could help people monitor medical conditions ...
- Why some people sweat more than otherson October 25, 2020 at 4:26 pm
Either they sweat for no obvious reason or (as Prince ... We have special temperature sensors in our skin and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that send signals to the body’s ...