A new breakthrough in diabetes research is the development of a special wristband by scientists that can diagnose diabetes through our sweat! While being worn on the wrist, this wristband collects sweat, measures its molecular constituents and then electronically transmits the results for analysis and diagnosis via a smartphone.
In collaboration with the University of California-Berkeley, this special wristband has been designed and developed by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine.
4 million people in Britain have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Hundreds of thousands more people in the UK are feared to have the condition but do not know it. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes; 1 in 4 doesn’t know. Diabetes is a serious disease that can be managed through physical activity, diet, and appropriate use of insulin and oral medications to lower blood sugar levels. Another important part of diabetes management is reducing other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use.
By wearing this wristband, patients can easily monitor their diabetes whereas caregivers can also see how patients respond to a certain medicine or treatment.
A medical journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will publish in-depth details of this new research.
This breakthrough wristband consists of flexible sensors and microprocessors. They stick to the skin, stimulate the sweat glands and then detect the presence of different molecules and ions based on their electrical signals. The team from Stanford used the wearable sweat sensor to compare levels of glucose in sweat to that in blood. High blood glucose levels can indicate diabetes.
Perhaps the best feature of this wristband is its portability and ease of use and access to a medical facility. It can be used anywhere at any time. It is connected to specialized centers in order to receive quick results via a smartphone. The measurements are sent to a cloud, reviewed at these centers and results are sent back to the patient. Patients can get a reading no matter where in the world they are as long as they have access to the internet.
This technology can also be used to measure other molecular constituents of sweat, such as chloride ion levels. High levels of chloride ions are an indicator of cystic fibrosis. Therefore, this platform can be used to measure virtually anything found in sweat.
Prof, Ronald Davis, professor of biochemistry and of genetics at Stanford who was also involved in the development of the wearable sensor, said:
“Sweat is hugely amenable to wearable applications and a rich source of information.”
This wristband hasn’t been rolled out in the market yet. But the team is now working on integrating the wristband sensor into a smartwatch for use by millions of people worldwide.
Former Stanford postdoctoral scholar, Sam Emaminejad, also involved in the research, added: “In the longer term, we want to integrate it into a smartwatch format for broad population monitoring.”