Stretchable Sensor Monitors Sweat for Disease Diagnosis

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Researchers from the University of Glasgow developed a wearable sensor for patients suffering from chronic conditions to avoid pin-prick blood test

The study aims to diagnose chemical composition of sweat, which can help physicians to monitor chronic conditions of patients such as diabetes, kidney disease and cancer, without the need for invasive blood tests. The research was published in journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics. Sweat comprises chemicals generated in the human body, including glucose and urea. Current non-invasive wearable are made from rigid materials, making it difficult to ensure constant contact with the skin.

Furthermore, wireless systems, which use Bluetooth are bulky and require constant recharging. The system operates based on sensor capable of measuring pH levels and which can stretch to fit the contours of wearers’ bodies. The device is made from a graphite-polyurethane composite and is the size of a single square centimeter. Furthermore, the device can stretch up to 53% in length without compromising performance and can work after being subjected to flexes of 30% up to 500 times. This property can be comfortably used on human skin without impacting performance.

The device is can wirelessly transmit data to the accompanying ‘SenseAble’ app. It does this through a stretchable RFID antenna integrated into the system, which allows users to track their pH levels in real time. “Now that we’ve demonstrated that our stretchable system can be used to monitor pH levels, we’ve already begun additional research to expand the capabilities of the sensor and make it a more complete diagnostic system. We’re planning to add sensors capable of measuring glucose, ammonia and urea, for example, and ultimately we’d like to see a system ready for market in the next few years,” said professor Ravinder Dahiya head of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering’s Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group.

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