Bioengineers develop a wearable that tracks sweat for biomarkers that could indicate IBD flare-ups

Service Engineering

A wearable system, which tracks sweat for biomarkers that could indicate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare-ups, has been developed by bioengineers at the University of Texas, Dallas. In a proof of concept study sponsored by the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation and published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the bioengineers demonstrated the wristwatch-like system.

The device is equipped with a sensor that quantifies and detects the existence of two primary IBD-related biomarkers, C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-1β. The research is said to be the first to demonstrate that it is possible to detect the two biomarkers in sweat, as well as the first to determine that CRP is present in human sweat.

“Bioengineers develop a wearable that tracks sweat for biomarkers that could indicate IBD flare-ups.“

The researchers used passive sweat; as a result, the wearer did not have their sweat glands expressed to create a sample or need to engage in physical exercise. The device, which collected the sweat on a removable strip, is vital because people with IBD may be unable to exercise at levels required to produce sweat.

In the second phase of the study, funded by the Foundation, the prototype will be tested on patient volunteers. Furthermore, it will undergo additional testing before it can be made available to patients.

The study’s principal investigator and department head and professor of bioengineering, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, Dr. Shalini Prasad, stated: “It’s like the check engine light in a car. The warning signal doesn’t mean a patient is having a flare-up, but it could give the person the chance to intervene earlier, when the symptoms may be more responsive to treatment. The device also could help doctors understand sooner whether a treatment is working.”

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