In Focus - Issue 35 (Spring 2023)

Unlocking healthcare secrets of sweat An early career faculty member’s convenient, wearable biosensors are offering a novel technological avenue for people to gain fresh insights on perspiration and wellness erspiration is a bodily function that people o en prefer to hide. However, for Prof. Hnin Yin Yin NYEIN, Chemical and Biological Engineering, the value of sweat is due for a rethink. “Sweat,” she pointed out, “is an underutilized resource with enormous potential in facilitating active, non-invasive, and accurate health monitoring.” Now the rising academic star is setting out to bring sweat back into the spotlight, along with greater recognition of the wealth of insights it o ers into the dynamics at work inside us. Prof. Nyein, selected for MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under Asia Paci c , is doing so by developing flexible wearable biosensors that utilize our sweating response to provide personalized and preventative healthcare in areas such as metabolism and psychological stress. Her cutting-edge sensors use resting sweat as a constant biofluid source to assess health metrics at a molecular level. The sensors are small, disposable and versatile, and can be tucked into wearables such as wristbands. They are also straightforward and cost-e ective to mass produce, providing accurate analysis of the wearer’s condition and enabling users of all ages and states of health to routinely track their physiology. The sensors represent a technological breakthrough in the eld, opening up on-going sweat monitoring without special collection procedures having to be carried out and paving the way for the potential transformation of diagnostic methods for some diseases. One candidate is cystic brosis, where the conventional test for diagnosis is to measure the chloride ion level in sweat. This requires patients to remain still while their sweat glands are stimulated for sweat to be collected. Patients then need to endure a further wait until lab results are returned. Prof. Nyein’s electrochemical sensors instead P 18 IN FOCUS Young Faculty