Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A new wearable device may help people with inflammatory bowel disease more quickly predict when flare-ups will occur, a study presented Thursday during the Crohn's & Colitis Congress found.
The device, called SweatSenser, was used to by researchers to detect early signs of IBD flares, or periods when symptoms worsen, based on levels of certain chemicals in sufferers' sweat.
The SweatSenser device used in the study, which was developed using technology owned by the company EnLiSense LLC and tested by researchers at the University of Texas Dallas, can be worn like a wristwatch.
The research team presented its study results during the virtual scientific meeting and published them in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, revealing that the device accurately identified these chemicals and warned of flares in 20 adults with the condition.
"Personalized health monitoring can be vital in improving patient's health by providing constant feedback on the health status," study co-author Badri Jagannath told UPI.
"The device has the potential to provide warning signals if the levels of the target molecules become abnormal, to enable patients for taking informed decisions proactively for better disease management," said Jagannath, a doctoral candidate in bioengineering at the University of Texas in Dallas.
IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, affects more than 1.2 million people in the United States, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.
Several devices designed to detect the cytokines interleukin-6 and interleukin-10, which are proteins secreted by the immune system in response to inflammation, have been explored in recent years to help sufferers predict the onset of flares, Jagannath and his colleagues said.
These disease episodes can include intense and uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
The SweatSenser is armed with electrodes that can detect levels of interleukin-6 and interleukin-10 in just a few drops of sweat, they said.
Elevated levels of these cytokines can be a warning that a IBD flare is imminent, allowing sufferers time to take preventive steps, including drug treatments, according to the researchers.
The technology, which has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is being evaluated in multiple clinical trials for use in IBD, as well as other health conditions, including diabetes.
"Flare-ups in IBD patients occur randomly when the disease relapses after the patient being in remission, [and] such devices can enable real-time tracking of the immune status of the patient," Jagannath said.
"The device itself will not detect flare-ups directly [but] it will trigger any abnormalities to empower patients for early intervention and seek assistance from their physician," he said.