July 21, 2018
2 min read

Wearable patch measures cortisol in sweat

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

Researchers from Stanford University have designed a wearable device that measures how much cortisol a person is producing through sweat, according to a press release from the university.

“Our aim was to develop a device that can give us more information about our health status than a single biomarker does, and a device that is potentially able to tell us how our metabolic and immune systems are affected by [our physiological] conditions,” Onur Parlak, PhD, of the department of materials science and engineering and post-doctoral scholar at the Salleo Research Group at Stanford University, told Endocrine Today. “This curiosity brought us to [start] work on a cortisol sensor, since it [is] well documented that cortisol is the hormone that affects blood pressure, metabolism, immune response, memory and [that] can, over time, contribute to the development of chronic diseases.”

Because current methods for testing cortisol levels require waiting several days for lab results, a person’s cortisol level may already be different from what it was at the time the test was taken, according to the press release. To combat this delay — and help health care providers give the most time-efficient treatment for certain medical conditions — the researchers created a stretchy patch that is applied directly to the skin and can, by sensing sweat, assess a person’s cortisol levels.

This type of fast-working test can be additionally beneficial in revealing the emotional states of young, sometimes non-verbal children, who cannot yet communicate feelings of stress, according to the release.

Wearable sensor technology is evolving to the point where we can monitor our health status in real-time and extract valuable information to potentially predict future diseases, according to Parlak.

Sweaty woman
Researchers from Stanford University have designed a wearable device that measures how much cortisol a person is producing through sweat.
Source: Adobe Stock

However, he cautions against over-promoting continuing monitoring devices for certain diseases when the research is not yet fully developed.

“In this way, we raise expectations that we cannot meet [at this time],” Parlak said. “Our device [is] not there yet, but we are now able to detect the cortisol hormone from human sweat. This is a good start! More research efforts can make this device a promising tool.”– by Melissa J. Webb

For more information:

Onur Parlak, PhD, can be reached at parlak@stanford.edu.

Disclosure: Parlak reports no relevant financial disclosures.