Are you one of those who skip the daily intake of medicine and pretend that they already had it when reminded? Then, this news might not be the best news you are going to hear. Nevertheless, if you really want to take medicine regularly but can’t help forgetting, this is, indeed, great news for you!

Checking the body lithium level

A group of researchers have invented a minute, touch-controlled sensor to track the medicine intake of a person. The device measures the lithium level in the body of that particular person by testing the tiny sweat particles produced on the skin. Many diseases including bi-polar disease and depression are treated using lithium treatment methods and it is vital that the patients take medicine regularly. Ergo, this device can help the patients and their caregivers to ensure that the prescribed medicine is consumed. Moreover, the researchers mention that this sensor can provide you with the results of the test within a period of time as short as 30 seconds, without any clinical assistance.

On last August 21, the research team has presented the results of the device’s performance at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and has received much praise.

How does it work?

Human sweat contains very tiny, charged lithium particles and those particles are secreted with sweat in very low amounts. So, the sensing device is utilising water-based gel containing glycerol which can detect the lithium particles. As the researchers explain, the gel creates a controlled environment (an enclosed space with precisely regulated environmental factors or parameters), for the electronic segment of the sensor. There is an ion-selective electrode used in the sensor, to trap the lithium ions as they pass through the layer of glycerol-containing gel. Then the accumulated set of ions generates a difference in electrical potential with a reference electrode. Based on the reading of that difference, the sensor can determine the concentration of lithium in sweat. Thus, having input the prescribed amounts of lithium consumption, it can be identified if the person has had the proper dosage.

You might wonder if it is needed to run a mile and sweat before doing this test. In fact, the sensor doesn’t need any pre-preparation and uses the minute sweat particles that are constantly available on the skin without being seen by the naked eye.

“Although it may not be visible, the human body constantly produces sweat, often only in very small amounts,” explains Shuyu Lin, PhD, a postgraduate student researcher, co-presenter of the work.

Why is it important?

While there are numerous other methods of testing the body lithium level, they all are not very convenient for the patients. For an instance, blood testing, which is the most popular way among people, is time-consuming as well as invasive. The pill counters are okay, but no one can be sure that the counted numbers of pills were actually consumed by the patients. Thus, it is not a reliable source. Nonetheless, this sensor is neither time consuming nor invasive and of course very accurate.  You simply have to wear it on your body for few seconds!

“The device has already been tested on people, including one person on a lithium treatment regimen. The researchers recorded this person’s lithium levels before and after taking the medication. The results showed that the measurement fell were close to those derived from saliva, which prior research has shown to accurately measure lithium levels” reports Gadgets 360.

By Induwara Athapattu