Early diagnosis for cystic fibrosis (CF) can make a big difference in improving the quality of life for people with CF. It can also help them live longer. That’s why a recent study from the National Institutes of Health is important to potentially providing an earlier and more reliable diagnosis.
CF is a chronic genetic disorder that creates a mucus buildup in the lungs and other organs. Usually, CF is diagnosed with a sweat test, which measures the amount of chloride in sweat. People with CF have high levels of chloride in their sweat.
The current sweat test, which is most often done in infants, uses a device strapped to the wrist to make a child sweat. The sweat is collected for 30 minutes and then measured.
But this approach often produces too little sweat for a reliable measurement.
Now researchers have developed a wearable device they’ve dubbed the “sweat sticker.” It sticks to the skin using an adhesive that’s safe for newborn babies, since that’s often when children are tested for the condition.
Measuring only about 1 millimeter thick—about the width of the point on a pencil—the sticker collected 33% more sweat on average than the current sweat test in one study.
More research is needed before the sticker can be used in clinical settings. But it could make future cystic fibrosis testing more reliable, especially in infants.