A Revolutionary Approach to Monitoring Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Monitoring disease status in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) traditionally involves invasive blood tests or procedures. However, a cutting-edge wearable device is showing promise in providing similar information through sweat analysis.
EnLiSense is currently developing this innovative device, which can quickly detect calprotectin, C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) by utilizing miniaturized versions of standard lab tests.
According to Dr. Shalini Prasad, a bioengineering professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and EnLiSense co-founder, patient monitoring focuses on identifying trends in biomarker levels. This wearable device offers the advantage of continuous monitoring, unlike traditional blood tests that may only provide periodic snapshots.
The inspiration for this project came from EnLiSense’s work with the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority, focusing on tracking infections and associated inflammatory markers. Recognizing the relevance of inflammation in IBD, the company shifted its focus towards developing a monitoring device for this condition.
The wearable device is only worn when prescribed by a physician, typically during periods of fluctuating disease activity. It collects sweat, conducts automated biochemical analysis, and transmits the results to the cloud for analysis. Dr. Prasad emphasizes that the device provides concentration data of inflammatory biomarkers, offering insights into how these levels change over time.
EnLiSense has received support from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s IBD Ventures program for this project. The company is currently conducting a study to compare biomarker concentrations in sweat with those in stool samples over a four-week period.
One critical aspect that remains to be determined is the duration and timing of device use during clinical periods. The challenge lies in finding the right balance between providing valuable information to both patients and clinicians without overwhelming them with data. Dr. Prasad highlights the importance of making the device clinically meaningful, unlike conventional consumer wearables.
In a recent study involving 33 IBD patients, the wearable device successfully measured levels of CRP, IL-6, and calprotectin in sweat, serum, and fecal samples. Patients with active disease showed higher levels of calprotectin in all three sample types compared to those in remission. However, there were no significant differences in CRP levels between active and remission patients.
This groundbreaking approach to monitoring IBD offers a non-invasive, convenient, and continuous method of tracking disease activity. With further research and refinement, wearable devices like this could revolutionize how clinicians manage chronic inflammatory conditions like IBD.