“Smart” diaper for bedside urine testing

Urine can reveal a lot about a person’s health. But doctors currently don’t have a convenient or quick way to track the concentration of important compounds in their patients’ urine. Today, researchers who report in Nanomaterials applied by ACS have designed a flexible sensor that fits in a diaper, measures multiple components in urine and can share these results via Bluetooth to provide real-time bedside analytics for incontinent, elderly or infant patients.

The concentration of certain compounds in urine can provide information about many different conditions, including kidney disease, urinary tract infections, and electrolyte deficiencies. Although many people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar with blood tests, the glucose levels in their urine can also show spikes or dips. To test urine, however, doctors usually have to order a urine test from a hospital lab, which is time-consuming, or use paper test strips, which aren’t very sensitive. Neither system can provide rapid bedside analyses. Some researchers have explored wearable devices to monitor health markers, such as the electrolyte and sugar content of sweat. So, Xi Xie, Hui-Jiun Chen and their colleagues wanted to design a similar type of wearable device that could accurately and sensitively measure the concentration of several health markers in urine and give real-time feedback to healthcare providers. care.

The team first fabricated an array of flexible electrodes the size of a US quarter. They included five different electrodes on the array that were designed to specifically detect potassium ions, sodium ions, hydrogen peroxide, uric acid or glucose, which are biomarkers for various conditions. Next, they connected the network to a circuit board with a Bluetooth module and a lithium-ion battery power source. When the array was exposed to urine samples from three volunteers, it performed as well as a commercial urine testing system. Then the researchers embedded the array in a layer and found that when urine was present, they could get readable signals for the biomarkers. However, they predict that in a real environment, where dry diapers slowly become saturated with urine, the electrode array would have to take several steps to obtain stable readings. So, with optimization, this “smart” layer could be a way to provide quick and painless urinalysis with wearable device technology, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from China’s National Key R&D Program; the National Natural Science Foundation of China; China Postdoctoral Science Foundation; the science and technology program in Guangzhou, China; Guangdong Basic and Applied Research Foundation; Sun Yat-Sen University Key Program; and the laboratory in Pazhou, Guangdong.

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Materials provided by American chemical society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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