Diagnosis of CF Simplified by Sweat Sensor Device

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 25 Apr 2017
A wristband-type wearable sweat sensor that measures calcium and glucose levels and transmits the data to a central laboratory is expected to simplify the current diagnostic method for cystic fibrosis (CF).

Conventional methods for diagnosing cystic fibrosis require that patients visit a specialized center and wait for up to 30 minutes while electrodes stimulate sweat glands in the skin to provide enough perspiration for the test. Then a laboratory measures the level of chloride ions in the sample to determine if the subject has the disease.

Image: A wearable sensor that extracts sweat and analyzes its constituents could be a useful device for diagnosing and monitoring diseases (Photo courtesy of Sam Emaminejad / Stanford School of Medicine).
Image: A wearable sensor that extracts sweat and analyzes its constituents could be a useful device for diagnosing and monitoring diseases (Photo courtesy of Sam Emaminejad / Stanford School of Medicine).

In contrast, the wearable sweat sensor stimulates the skin to produce small amounts of sweat, rapidly measures components in the sample, and sends the data by way of a cell phone to a laboratory that analyzes and returns the results.

To demonstrate the clinical value of the platform, human subject studies were performed in the context of the cystic fibrosis diagnosis and preliminary investigation of the blood/sweat glucose correlation. With the platform, the investigators detected the elevated sweat electrolyte content of cystic fibrosis patients compared with that of healthy control subjects. Furthermore, the results indicated that oral glucose consumption in the fasting state was followed by increased glucose levels in both sweat and blood.

"This is a huge step forward," said contributing author Dr. Carlos Milla, associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford University. "The test happens all at once and in real time. CF diagnosis, as well as other kinds of diagnoses, could be done without needing a staff of skilled clinicians on duty and a well-equipped lab. You can get a reading anywhere in the world."

The device was described in the April 17, 2017, online edition of the journal Proceedings of the [U.S.] National Academy of Sciences.



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