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Wearable detects diseases from sweat

Macro of water drop on human skin

A new wearable which uses sweat to detect diseases including cystic fibrosis (CF) has been developed in America.

Sweat contains critical data for medical professionals in the diagnoses of CF, as well as diabetes and other diseases. And sensors in the new wearable device can quickly assess an individuals health from it.

Created through a collaboration between researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California-Berkeley, the breakthrough has been hailed as a  “huge step forward” by Dr Carlos Milla, associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford, and one of the leaders on the project.

The system extracts sweat from the skin and “detects the presence of different molecules and ions” – high levels of chloride ion are an indicator of CF. The amount of glucose in sweat could also help determine if someone has diabetes.

“Sweat is hugely amenable to wearable applications and a rich source of information,” said Ronald Davis, Professor of biochemistry and of genetics at Stanford.

The current diagnosis process for CF, a disease diagnosed most of often in children, requires patients – who are often quite young – to remain still for half an hour while equipment is used to extract and collect sweat. In contrast the new wearable does it all swiftly in real time, using the device, a smartphone and data analytics.

“In the longer term, we want to integrate it into a smartwatch format for broad population monitoring,” added Stanford postdoctoral scholar, Sam Emaminejad, another lead author on the study, which was published this week in in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.




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