Summary: Researchers have developed a flexible sweat-monitoring device that induces sweat through drug stimulation, enabling non-invasive health monitoring.


  1. The new device induces sweat without physical activity by delivering drugs through the skin, making it easier for individuals with limited mobility to undergo sweat testing.
  2. The device has shown over 98% accuracy in detecting biomarkers in infants with cystic fibrosis, proving its effectiveness and stability.
  3. This technology allows for non-invasive, at-home disease monitoring and has potential applications in drug delivery for skin conditions and wounds.

Sweat contains biomarkers that can monitor various health conditions, from diabetes to genetic disorders. Sweat sampling, unlike blood collection, is preferred by users due to its painless nature. However, to obtain sufficient nutrients or hormones from sweat for testing, intense physical activity was previously required to induce sweat. This method posed challenges for individuals with limited mobility.

Kim Joohee, PhD, from the Bionics Research Center at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST, Director Oh Sangrok) and Professor John A. Rogers from Northwestern University jointly announced the development of a convenient sweat monitoring device that does not require physical activity but delivers drug stimulation through the skin. Unlike previous methods that induced sweat through exercise, this device delivers drugs that stimulate sweat glands through the skin.

“Through two years of collaborative research with Northwestern University, we have not only addressed the limitations of existing methods for inducing sweat but also achieved success in clinical research, bringing us one step closer to commercialization,” says Joohee.

Sweat Monitoring Device

The research team developed a flexible device capable of delivering drugs to sweat glands by applying a current to a hydrogel containing drugs. This device, which is small and soft, can be easily attached to the skin. Sweat induced by the drug is collected in microfluidic channels within the device and analyzed for biomarkers using biosensors. This enables the analysis of biomarkers in sweat, reducing the need for cumbersome hospital visits for testing and lowering the risk of biomarker contamination during testing, thereby increasing accuracy.

Infant Health Monitoring

The device developed by the research team was attached to infants with cystic fibrosis, and the chloride concentration, a biomarker in sweat, was confirmed. The results were consistent with those obtained from traditional analysis methods using sweat collected in hospitals, with an accuracy of over 98%. Additionally, the stability of the device on the skin was ensured by confirming skin temperature and pH values. Since cystic fibrosis mainly manifests during infancy, continuous monitoring of disease progression and physical condition is necessary. With this device, monitoring can be easily done at home, reducing the psychological and physical stress on pediatric patients and their caregivers.

Further reading: Scientists Develop Finger Sweat Test to Detect Antipsychotic Drugs

Non-Invasive Disease Monitoring 

This newly developed device contributes to the expansion of non-invasive disease monitoring technology based on sweat in healthy adults as well. Furthermore, the technology of delivering drugs through the skin can be utilized not only to induce sweat but also to increase the delivery rate of drugs in localized areas such as skin conditions or wounds, thereby accelerating recovery.

“We plan to conduct large-scale clinical studies and commercialization, including adults, in the future,” says Rogers.

Featured image: Illustration and photograph of the device capable of drug delivery for sweat induction and simultaneous monitoring of biomarkers in sweat. Photo: Korea Institute of Science and Technology