The end of the blood test? Wristband measures sweat to monitor health’

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  • January 30, 2016

The end of the blood test? Wristband measures sweat to monitor health’

The end of the blood test? Wristband measures sweat to monitor health’

A wearable device that measures biomarkers in sweat could one day replace health-monitoring blood tests, scientists have said.

Researchers have developed a prototype that packs five sensors onto a flexible circuit board.

By “tasting” a person’s sweat, the device can measure glucose, lactate – a marker of low oxygen levels in the body – sodium, potassium and skin temperature.

The results can be transmitted to wi-fi devices such as smart phones.

Inventor Professor Ali Javey, from the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), US, said: “Human sweat contains physiologically rich information, thus making it an attractive body fluid for non-invasive wearable sensors.

“However, sweat is complex and it is necessary to measure multiple targets to extract meaningful information about your state of health.

“In this regard, we have developed a fully integrated system that simultaneously and selectively measures multiple sweat analytes, and wirelessly transmits the processed data to a smartphone.

“Our work presents a technology platform for sweat-based health monitors.”

Colleague Professor George Brooks, also from UC Berkeley, said: “Having a wearable sweat sensor is really incredible because the metabolites and electrolytes measured by the Javey device are vitally important for the health and well-being of an individual.

“When studying the effects of exercise on human physiology, we typically take blood samples.

“With this non-invasive technology, someday it may be possible to know what’s going on physiologically without needle sticks or attaching little disposable cups on you.”

The device, described in the journal Nature, was tested on dozens of volunteers as they cycled on stationary bikes or ran on tracks or outdoor trails.

Prof Brooks added: “While Professor Javey’s wearable, non-invasive technology works well on sweating athletes, there are likely to be many other applications of the technology for measuring vital metabolite and electrolyte levels of healthy persons in daily life.

“It can also be adapted to monitor other body fluids for those suffering from illness and injury.”

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