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Wearables: Sweat Tech Health Monitor

3 weeks, 5 days ago

1284  0
Posted on Jun 21, 2024, 4 p.m.

Image: The health monitor is flexible and designed to be comfortable to wear. Credit: Washington State University.

A wearable health monitor developed at Washington State University (WSU) is reported to reliably measure levels of important biochemicals in sweat during physical exercise. The report published in the journal ACS Sensors also suggests that the wearable can accurately monitor the levels of glucose, lactate, and uric acid as well as the rate of sweating during exercise.

This proof-of-concept wearable 3D-printed monitor could someday provide a simple and non-invasive way to track health conditions and diagnose common diseases, such as diabetes, gout, kidney disease, or heart disease. This sweat tech has single-atom catalysts and enzymatic reactions to enhance the signal and measure low levels of the biomarkers, and three biosensors on the monitor change color to indicate the specific biochemical levels.

"Diabetes is a major problem worldwide," said Chuchu Chen, a WSU Ph.D. student and first author on the paper. "I think 3D printing can make a difference to the healthcare fields, and I wanted to see if we can combine 3D printing with disease detection methods to create a device like this."

Sweat it out

Sweat contains many important metabolites that can indicate health conditions. For example, levels of uric acid in sweat can indicate the risk of developing gout, kidney disease or heart disease. Glucose levels are used to monitor diabetes, and lactate levels can indicate exercise intensity. However, the amount of these chemicals in sweat is low and can be hard to measure. 

"Sweat rate is also an important parameter and physiological indicator for people's health," said Kaiyan Qiu, Berry Assistant Professor in WSU's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Monitoring biomarkers

"It's novel to use single-atom catalysts to enhance the sensitivity and accuracy of the health monitor," said Annie Du, research professor in WSU's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Qiu and Du led the study.

"We need to measure the tiny concentrations of biomarkers, so we don't want these supporting materials to be present or to have to remove them," he said. "That's why we're using a unique method to print the self-supporting microfluidic channels."

When comparing the monitors when worn to lab results the researchers found that the monitor was accurately and reliably measuring the concentrations of the chemicals along with the participant’s sweating rate.

Moving forward

Although this health monitor contains 3 biomarkers to measure, more can be added and customized. The researchers are working to improve the device design and continue validation to eventually commercialize their wearable biotechnology.

The WSU Office of Commercialization has filed for a patent to protect the intellectual property associated with this technology. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. Additionally, it is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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Image: The health monitor is flexible and designed to be comfortable to wear. Credit: Washington State University.

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