Wearable microfluidic platform tracks health by monitoring sweatS. Himmelstein | June 25, 2020
A simple sweat collection and analysis device has been designed to assist healthcare professionals with diagnosing and monitoring disease progression by measuring pH, glucose and other biomarkers.
The skin-interfaced microfluidic platform was engineered by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Xiangtan University, China, as a wearable patch for collecting, storing and analyzing sweat chemistry and sweat loss. The soft patch applied to the skin close to sweat glands includes a multi-chamber vial with a silicone rubber hydrophobic valve near the opening. A hydrophilic coating lining the microchannel facilitates the collection of sweat samples.
Incorporation of a single opening in the device reduces evaporation and contamination and provides for extended sample storage time for later analysis. The collected samples can also be assayed in situ with a colorimetric approach. Adding specific analytes to react with pH or glucose levels results in a color change that can be evaluated with the naked eye or a photo taken by a smartphone.
The device could be used by clinicians and athletes for monitoring overheating and adjusting exercise levels for optimum performance.
Wearable sweat sensors are finding increasing use as diagnostic aids. The ability to predict when an individual with autism spectrum disorder might engage in problem behavior could just be a matter of measuring indicators in sweat. The University of Missouri has explored this predictive potential by use of wrist and ankle monitors to gauge changes in electrodermal activity, an indicator of nervous system arousal, in sweat. Similarly, a wireless graphene-based sweat sensor designed at California Institute of Technology precisely detects levels of cortisol, a natural compound considered the body's stress hormone.