Wearable sensor analyzes sweat for gout-causing compounds

Shane McGlaun - Dec 2, 2019, 6:01 am CST
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Wearable sensor analyzes sweat for gout-causing compounds

A researcher from Caltech called Wei Gao has devised an interesting sensor that can monitor levels of metabolites and nutrients in a person’s blood by analyzing their sweat. The sensor is mass-producible and more sensitive than current devices that can detect sweat compounds.

The sensor that Gao developed is more sensitive than current devices and can detect sweat compounds at much lower concentrations. Gao says that sensors such as the one he built have the potential to rapidly, continuously, and noninvasively capture changes in health at a molecular level. The sensor that the scientist has devised uses microfluidics, a name for tech that can manipulate tiny amounts of liquids.

The wearable sensor uses channels that are less than a quarter of a millimeter in width to manipulate the fluids. In this case, the freshly supplied sweat flows through the microchannels allowing for more accurate measurement of sweat and the ability to capture temporal changes in concentrations.

Goa and his colleagues note that until now, most wearable sensors of this type were fabricated with a lithography-evaporation process that requires more complicated and expensive fabrication processes. The sensor that the team created can measure respiratory rate, heart rate, and levels of uric acid and tyrosine.

Tyrosine was chosen because it can be an indicator of metabolic disorders. Uric acid was chosen because, at elevated levels, it can cause gout. In testing, the sensor was able to accurately determine if a person wearing it and gout and if they didn’t. The sensors were made out of graphene, making them much easier and cheaper to construct than similar sensors using other tech.


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