DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A sensor developed by University of Texas in Dallas and EnLiSense will detect cytokine molecules in sweat.
In an infection, the body releases these molecules to signal an inflammation.
In a COVID-19 infection the body’s response is often heightened, which creates the so-called cytokine storm.
Doctors say this is where the body starts to attack its own cells.
A cytokine storm could lead to hospitalization.
“This gives you a check engine light, allowing you then to seek further help,” says Dr. Shalini Prasad Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at UT Dallas. “It can be integrated into your clothing, it can be integrated into a small patch that you would wear at any part of your body.”
Currently, researchers are using a wristwatch to conduct experiments.
“When cytokines start to elevate in this rapid amplification manner, it’s going to detect whether the person is going to end up requiring more clinical management, whether it’s an icu bed or a ventilator.” she said. “You have time to prepare before the storm hits you.”
Right now, cytokines are tested in blood, a test that can take time.
But researcher Kai-Chun Lin says the device can alert user on elevated levels in real-time, allowing doctors to treat patients sooner.
The sensor can also measure flu, inflammatory bowel syndrome and other infections.
Dr. Prasad says it will take two to three years to fully develop the device.