STANFORD, Calif. – Researchers from Stanford University have developed a wearable skin sensor that measures cortisol from sweat. A paper about the device was published recently in Science Advances. “We are particularly interested in sweat sensing because it offers noninvasive and continuous monitoring of various biomarkers for a range of physiological conditions,” said Onur Parlak, a lead author of the paper. “This offers a novel approach for the early detection of various diseases and evaluation of sports performance.” The stretchy, rectangular sensor is built within a membrane that specifically binds only to cortisol. It sucks in sweat passively through holes in the bottom of the patch, and the sweat pools in a reservoir, which is topped by the cortisol-sensitive membrane. Charged ions like sodium or potassium, also found in sweat, pass through the membrane unless they are blocked by cortisol. All a user needs to see cortisol levels is to sweat, apply the patch and connect it to a device for analysis, which gives results in seconds. In the future, the researchers hope the sensor could be part of a fully integrated system. Eventually, the researchers hope to develop a device that measures several biomarkers at once, which would give a clearer and more individualized picture of what is going on in a person’s body.
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