The skin patch built with sensors enables the measurement of health-related biomarkers from sweat.
Fremont, CA: Researchers have recently developed a patch that can measure about six health-related problems from sweat. In traditional techniques, to gain insights about health markers like glucose or uric acid levels in patients, blood is collected from them and sent to a lab where lab technicians analyze it and generate the results. To cut down the time spent to complete such tests and to limit the workload, researchers are looking for alternative ways. Making the process less invasive and closer to real-time is possible with a patch that can address both the issues mentioned above.
The patch is made by embedding the sensors in a woven graphite-silk fabric. When the graphite used is doped with nitrogen atoms, it enhances the conductivity of ions. The final product is an electrochemical patch that can be applied to the skin on the arm. The patch is flexible enough to fix to the skin. It has tiny holes to pull in sweat when appended to the skin.
The patch gathers data from sweat for levels of ascorbic acid, potassium, glucose, lactate, sodium, and uric acid. Researchers note that sensors utilized for studying sweat, incorporate devices that measure color range employing fluorescence methods or electrochemical processes where the latter is the preferred method. The sensors they used measure acids by calculating the amount of current that arises during oxidation. The quantity of hydrogen peroxide created during the enzymatic redox process indicates their levels. And, potassium and sodium ions are estimated using sensors with ion-selective membranes.
The patch was tried in the arms of five healthy adult volunteers by attaching it while pedaling on an exercise bike. Results were sent to a smartphone in a form that can be easily interpreted by the user or doctor dealing, and it was observed that the patch provided simultaneous measurements of all six biomarkers with a high degree of sensitivity. An added advantage of this skin patch biomarker sensor is that batteries are not mandatory and can be used in any environment, including underwater. The researchers note that elements in sweat include markers for things like cystic fibrosis, dehydration, and electrolyte levels.