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Wearable Sensors for Diagnosing Cystic Fibrosis


Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have collaborated with the researchers at University of California and developed a wrist-band kind of wearable sweat sensor for the diagnosis of diseases like Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes Mellitus and others.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease where the body produces excessive mucus in various organs and glands such as lungs, pancreas etc. In this disease there is an abnormality in the pumping of ions such as chloride. Hence, it has more than normal levels of chloride ions in the sweat.

The sweat sensor detects the change in the body’s concentration of the chloride and other ions in the sweat through their electrical activity. The chloride ions generate more electrical signals and hence the disease is picked up. Unlike the conventional sweat collectors, this wearable doesn’t need the patient s to sit still under hot sun for a long time while sweat accumulates in the collectors.

Not only the change in the concentration gradient of certain ions can be detected by the device but it can also monitor the glucose levels and hence it also proves to be a useful device for detecting diabetes mellitus.

Read More: Apple iWatch to Introduce Non-Invasive Blood Glucose Monitoring For Diabetics

The sweat sensor works in two parts. It has a system of microprocessors and flexible sensors which stick to the skin and stimulate the body’s sweat glands to release sweat and then it detects and processes the components making up the sweat. It only requires minute amounts of sweat for it to produce the desirable results. It examines the sweat contents and then sends it the results to a server via the cell phone to be analyzed.

This device is particularly useful in the detection of CF in remote areas and places which do not have easy access to health care as the detection of Cystic Fibrosis requires a series of special sweat electrode tests.

“This is a huge step forward,” said Carlos Milla, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford.

The study was published online April 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Milla shares senior authorship with Ronald Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics at Stanford. Former Stanford postdoctoral scholar Sam Emaminejad, PhD, and UC-Berkeley postdoctoral scholar Wei Gao are co- lead authors.

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