The development of wearable early warning tools for patients – discover the Sentinel Project solution

21 Mar 2024

Despite hospital early warning tools many upcoming disorders are not detected in a timely fashion and frequently requiring costly none-reimbursed resuscitation interventions. An example of such disorder is delirium. Despite current early warning tools, admitted patients have a 24% chance of obtaining a delirium. According to healthcare professionals, monitoring chemical biomarkers will improve these tools substantially. The Sentinel Penta project developed wearable sweat-sensing patches for frequent measurement of these biomarkers.

Project Objectives and Challenges

The Sentinel objective was to develop and de-risk technologies thereby enabling future product development of a wearable that integrates semicontinuous quantitative hybrid sensing of physiological, contextual, and biomolecule markers.

In the Sentinel project various challenges have been addressed:

  1. A wearable format
  2. Design & realization of a functional wearable,  demonstrating sweat sampling, sweat transport & sensing sweat rate
  3. Construction of a functional module that can measure  a biomarker (glucose) in sweat
  4. Development of affiliated algorithms  that translates raw data into clinically relevant data
  5. Design & set-up of manufacturing technology for device-prototypes.
  6. In the domain of Patient Monitoring analyse use cases in clinical setting for Sepsis, Delirium and Kidney failure.
  7. Showcase new developments in micro-nano technology,  with a major development in miniature electrowetting on large area, required i.e. to interface with the person’s bio-liquids and allow for (semi)continuous measurements for one week.

Technological achievements

Why are autonomous tests need

Current point of care (POC) tests for in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) take 10-15 minutes, an unacceptable impact on the nurse’s workflow when used for patient monitoring. Here monitoring reflects to measurements repeated typically every 30 to 60 minutes to follow patient’s health status while in-vitro diagnostics is typically conducted once to determine the cause of an illness. Using diagnostic tools for monitoring is in the current state-of-affairs not suitable due to expenses and negative impact on nurse’s workflow. Monitoring of chemical biomarkers means frequent measurement and is only acceptable for a patient if sampling is done non-obtrusively and for a nurse if execution is autonomous.

The autonomous operating device

A wearable sweat sensing device has been developed that samples sweat non-obtrusively, without needle piercing and operates autonomously. Sweat is rich in biomarkers, but patients in sedentary state sweat very little. A major breakthrough has been accomplished by developing a device capable of collecting small sweat volumes in a discretized manner and actively transporting sweat droplets in fast pace to the sensors.

Two clinical studies were conducted and evaluated: (i) dialysis monitoring – urea & (ii) delirium – cortisol.

Market Potential

Since project’s intended product is based on a platform, with interchangeable biosensors, various biomarkers can be assessed each related to a market segment. Progressing insights showed that not only the hospital can use the developed solution, but also chronic patients at home, which have the same essential requirements of non-obtrusive biofluid collection and autonomous operation. Project partners play an important role in the eco-system that supports a spin-out initiative with vice versa benefits.

Societal & Economic Impact

Patients with complications require substantial effort of hospitals affiliated with huge waste of medical materials. The use of sweat sensing is expected to reduce the number of patients with serious complication by enabling early intervention, reducing the number of crash interventions and thereby substantially lowering the environmental footprint of hospitals. At least equally important is the societal impact; by improving early warning, patients will experience less serious complications and experience much less residual chronic effects after being discharged by the hospital. Especially acquiring less mental permanent disorders will mean a better life after hospital release. In the last decades hospitals made large progress in curing patients, however less attention has been paid to care, addressing the quality of life after discharge. Sentinel’s sweat sensing technology is adding to a balanced focus between cure and care.

Patents, Standardisation, Publications

A substantial IP portfolio has been generated on sweat sensing prior to Sentinel and via the Project Contract Agreement key patents were brought in as background being available for the consortium. The developed technology is rather new and when going forward with product development the need for standardisation will become in focus.
At the final review, 22 publications have been presented. At least 5 more will follow. The Sentinel project received the 2023 Penta – Euripides2 Innovation Award.

Get to know more about the Sentinel PENTA project developed solution, visualisation of the technical achievements, as well as  future developments here.

PENTA is an Eureka Network Cluster, operated by AENEAS.