CEO India
Sweating The Small Stuff Image Credit: CEO India
Sweating The Small Stuff Image Credit: CEO India

Sweating The Small Stuff

Assistant professor of medical engineering Wei Gao is enriching the field of personalized and precision medicine with an abundant source of chemical data: sweat.

Gao’s perspiration-analysis technology enables early detection of physiological aberrations, customized treatment plans, and greater accuracy in drug monitoring. Low energy, for example, is a symptom that could be associated with a multitude of health concerns, but a sweat-reading biosensor can detect abnormal chemical reactions in the body that are associated with specific conditions. What follows are three examples of how Gao’s biosensors one day may help physicians interpret what might be ailing you.

METABOLIC MONITOR

Low energy is a common indicator of various metabolic disorders, but a sensor readout that displays imbalances in sugar and electrolytes would prompt a physician to screen for diabetes.

Wearable sweat analyzers could help 30 million Americans who have diabetes monitor their condition. And for the additional 84 million U.S. citizens with pre-diabetes, biosensors could help provide early detection of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The sensors also could track biomarkers that point to imbalances associated with cystic fibrosis and gout.

“The sensor can work as both a diagnostic and a disease-management tool,” says Caltech graduate student Yiran Yang, who develops wearable sensors that monitor metabolic disorders. She explains: “Although many foods carry nutrition labels, this doesn’t help patients with certain metabolic disorders understand their personal limits. By monitoring


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