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New wearable sensor can diagnose diseases from sweat

The team at Stanford University in the US used the wearable sweat sensor in separate studies to detect chloride ion levels – high levels are an indicator of cystic fibrosis -and to compare levels of glucose in sweat to that in blood. High blood glucose levels can indicate diabetes.Conventional methods for diagnosing cystic fibrosis – a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs, pancreas and other organs – require that patients visit a specialised centre and sit still while electrodes stimulate sweat glands in their skin to provide sweat for the test.

Children have to sit still for 30 minutes while an instrument attached to their skin collects sweat.By comparison, the wearable sweat sensor stimulates the skin to produce minute amounts of sweat, quickly evaluates the contents and beams the data by way of a cellphone to a server that can analyse the results.

People living in remote villages in developing countries, where conventional testing is unavailable, could also benefit from a portable, self-contained sweat sensor, he said.The wearable device is robust and can be run with a smartphone, which can send measurements to a cloud and receive a result right back after review at a specialised centre.

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