Researchers’ device tracks biomarkers in sweat, may indicate flare-ups — ScienceDaily

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University of Texas at Dallas researchers have designed a wearable device that monitors sweat for biomarkers that could signal flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A team of bioengineers demonstrated the wristwatch-like device in a proof-of-concept study funded by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and published online July 28 and in the October print edition of the foundation’s journal, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

A sensor in the device detects and quantifies the presence of two key biomarkers associated with inflammatory bowel disease: interleukin-1β and C-reactive protein (CRP). The study is the first to establish that CRP is present in human sweat and the first to show that the two biomarkers can be detected in sweat.

Dr. Shalini Prasad, department head and professor of bioengineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the study’s principal investigator, said the technology could provide a warning but not a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. The ultimate goal of the work is to develop a device to help patients gain more control over IBD, which can be unpredictable.

“It’s like the check-engine light in a car,” said Prasad, the Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor in Systems Biology Science. “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.”

The researchers monitored the levels of the two biomarkers in 20 healthy volunteers to show that the biomarkers could be tracked and to establish the levels of biomarkers in people without IBD.

The researchers used what is called passive sweat, which means that the wearer did not need to engage in physical activity or have their sweat glands