Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas, in collaboration with a company called EnLiSense, developed a wearable electrochemical sweat sensor that can detect chemokines in sweat, alerting the wearer and clinicians to a viral or bacterial infection. The device also warns of an impending cytokine storm, where high levels of inflammatory molecules are released by the body all at once, often proving fatal. The wearable could be particularly useful in cases of severe COVID-19, in which a cytokine storm is a significant risk.
Sweat sensors are developing apace, and this latest offering has an interesting application – detecting inflammatory molecules associated with infections. In this specific case, the researchers tailored the electrochemical sensor to detect interferon-gamma-inducible protein (IP-10) and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), both of which are associated with a cytokine storm, a potentially fatal complication of certain infections, including COVID-19.
“Our work is pioneering since, until this date, it was unclear whether these molecules were present in sweat,” said Shalini Prasad, a researcher involved in the study. “We established that our low-volume passive sweat technology is indeed able to measure these biomarkers.”
Interestingly, the sensor allows clinicians to distinguish whether someone is likely to have a bacterial or viral infection, although a follow-up test would be required to determine the exact pathogen. The sensor can operate through passive sweat, and does not require the wearer to perform strenuous activity to generate enough sweat to perform a measurement. This is just as well, as the sensor is intended to be worn by those who are ill.
The new sensor can analyze sweat in real-time, although the device contains a removable strip that collects the sweat, and this must be replaced every day. The most valuable aspect of the device is its function as an early warning system for cytokine storms that can occur during various serious infections. If clinicians are forewarned of an impending cytokine storm, then they may have a greater chance of saving a patient’s life.
“We have built a technology to unlock and explore the latest frontier in sweat diagnostics,” said Prasad. “This sweat-based, wearable technology from EnLiSense is truly transformational in that it can measure and report human host response messenger molecules associated with inflammation and infection in a real-time and continuous manner.”
See a video about the technology below, which was created when the researchers presented their technology at the ACS Spring 2021 Virtual Meeting.
Study in Advanced Materials Technologies: Novel Approach to Track the Lifecycle of Inflammation from Chemokine Expression to Inflammatory Proteins in Sweat Using Electrochemical Biosensor
Link: EnLiSense homepage…