Detection of cystic fibrosis with an electrochemical sweat sensor

Are you aware that sweat of a human can act as an indicator of specific diseases? Yes, it can as it has a huge biochemical data within it. Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that results in accumulation of mucus in the pancreas, lungs, and other organs, is usually detected by collecting the sweat sample of the individual and then estimate the chloride amount dissolved in it. The technologies used at present need the collection of sweat sample that is large enough for the examination. However, it is challenging when elderly people or kids are to be diagnosed that do not move a lot. Electrical stimulation and pilocarpine situated on the skin are the extensively utilized to stimulate sweat excretion, in which the person to be diagnosed needs to stay motionless but many times the techniques are not sufficient.

A research team from the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University has designed a wearable sensor that remains on the skin, triggers it, and determines the concentration of chloride while the individual can walk around freely. The system basically consists of two parts: microprocessors and flexible sensors.The sweat glands are activated and then the different ions and molecules are assessed for their presence on the basis of their electrical signals. The system electrically triggers the skin to generate sweat and also assist the stimulating agent in penetrating the skin. It depends on the electrochemically improved iontophoresis platform that links to the incorporated circuit, which further sends the results to an external computer.

For instance, the more the levels of chloride in the sweat, the more electric voltage will be produced at the surface of the sensor. The scientist utilized this wearable sweat sensor in a study to estimate the levels of chloride ions as high levels are indicative of cystic fibrosis. The study also compared the glucose levels in sweat and blood; the high levels of blood glucose can suggest of diabetes.

Maybe in the coming period, this technology can be incorporated with wireless connectivity to facilitate instantaneous monitoring of the functioning of the device with the use of a smartphone or tablet. The team was successful in testing the system in several patients, including cystic fibrosis.

Don’t you think it can be helpful for detection of cystic fibrosis in kids and elderly patients who cannot move?