A medical device... sweat-proof!

Through a new wearable device, it will be possible to monitor the patient's medical condition, thanks to the cortisol present in the sweat released during physical activity.

Written Friday, by Emanuele Mortarotti

Welcome back to a new appointment with the news fromDispotech, your disposable excellence. Today we have prepared for you readers a piece inspired by a research published onnews-medical.net.

Cortisol is a hormone, naturally produced and extinguished within a day and may increase in response to stress peaks, but today's methods of measuring its levels take several days to produce results. The day the person concerned receives the results on their cortisol levels - possibly linked to other health conditions - is also aware that they are no longer reliable, because after two days these levels will no longer provide reliability.

A team led by scientist Alberto Salleo ofStanford University has created a sort of elastic bandage that, applied directly to the skin, analyses sweat and is able to determine the amount of cortisol produced by an individual. A scientific paperillustrating the incredible invention, was published on 20th of July on Science Advances.

“We are particularly interested in sweat analysis because it offersa non-invasive but continuousmonitoring of several biomarkers for a significantrangeof physiological conditions," said Onur Parlak, PhD student at Dr. Salleo's laboratory. “All this offers a new approach to the early detection of various diseases, as well as the evaluation of athletic performance

Clinical tests, that measure cortisol, provide an objective indicator of physical or mental stress and can help physicians determine whether the pituitary gland is working properly. If the prototype version of this wearable medical device were to become commercially viable, it could allow people suffering from hormonal imbalance to monitor their levels at home.

A quick test like this could also reveal the emotional state – in children, who may not be able to express their state of stress and/or psycho-physical discomfort.


The “cortisol” challenge

Dr. Parlak came into contact with Dr. Salleo, an associate professor of Materials Science, in order to develop new models of wearable technologies. While discussing Parlak's work at a conference, someone suggested to Salleo the idea of developing a device to measure cortisol levels.

To overcome this challenge, Parlak has developed its own sensor: elastic, rectangular in shape, wrapped around a membrane that specifically binds only to cortisol. When in contact with the skin, the device passively absorbs sweat through small holes; sweat accumulates in a micro tank surmounted by a cortisol-sensitive membrane. Charged ions, such as sodium or potassium - also found in sweat - pass through the membrane if they are not blocked by cortisol. It is the "blocked" ions that the sensor detects, not the cortisol itself. The bandage is protected from contamination by an outer water-resistant layer.

All the patient has to do, to use this device, is sweat (literally dripping), apply the bandage and connect it to an electronic device for analysis - which is done a few seconds later. Researchers hope that the sensor will become part of a fully autonomous system in the future.

What do you think of this innovative wearable medical device? Let us know your opinion by contacting team Dispotech!


Emanuele Mortarotti
Author Emanuele Mortarotti


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