• Fede Montagud, editor

    A sensor patch to analyse sweat

    17 Apr A sensor patch to analyse sweat



    IEEE Spectrum

    They say bracelets and watches are taking on a new meaning – as “wearables”, whether they count the steps we take during the day or monitor the quality of our sleep. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (USA) have developed a bandaid-like wearable gadget with a sensor that measures electrolytes, metabolites and proteins in perspiration and which could prove to be of diagnostic value.


    Using perspiration to diagnose certain diseases is nothing new; cystic fibrosis can be ruled out by this method, for intance, and perspiration has also been used to determine drug intake. But the Novel Devices Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati (USA) has gone a step further: Jason Heickenfel and his team have developed a wearable gadget consisting of material that absorbs perspiration, a circuit that calculates perspiration levels of certain ions, e.g., sodium, and a unit for radio frequency transmission of this data to a smartphone. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    The skin hazards of shopping

    11 Apr The skin hazards of shopping



    ABC News

    We find it difficult to take on board, because of the adrenaline that accompanies our consumerist impulses and because we assume something new must be clean. But these two concepts do not always go hand in hand. The clothes we buy are not pristine: several people may have tried them on before us. What are the risks for our skin? The germs that lurk in some garments may cause discomfort — nothing serious, but worth bearing in mind.


    Philip Tierno, author of The Secret Life of Germs, claims to have found remains of skin flora, respiratory secretions, vaginal organisms and even faecal matter in all kind of newly purchased clothing, ranging from swimsuits to blouses and trousers. Dr Tierno, Head of the Department of Microbiology, New York University, conducted a study of allegedly new clothing items, finding large amounts of pathogens comfortably ensconced in underarm and genital area folds. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Google creates artificial human skin for medical purposes

    6 Apr Google creates artificial human skin for medical purposes



    The Independent

    Google has long since ceased to be a mere search engine. It is keeping one step ahead of scientific and technical developments, as evidenced by Google Glass and driverless cars. Now, in its Life Sciences division, it wants to change the traditional approach to medicine and observe the body from within. But to interpret the results, Google also had to recreate the body’s protective barrier, the skin.


    ​​Dr. Andrew Conrad, who heads the Google X Life Sciences team, wants to make medicine more proactive and preventive than episodic and reactive, so he is more interested in preventing people from getting sick than in curing them. His team is working on developing a wristband to detect cancer cells, heart problems and other diseases long before the first symptoms appear. The innovative wristband picks up the light emitted by nanoparticles inserted into the body by simple pills. The team didn’t think twice about developing artificial human skin. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    The skin’s natural moisturizing factor

    31 Mar The skin’s natural moisturizing factor



    Practical Dermatology

    Our skin is equipped with the perfect machinery whose function is to retain water and prevent dehydration. The skin, a vital organ in our body, has the crucial function of protecting all the other organs within it. And it does so through a complex network of molecules called the natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which ensures a delicately balanced epidermis, despite environmental variations in humidity and temperature.


    When we are born our skin is already equipped to stay hydrated and protected from UV rays. Time and environmental aggressions wear down the skin’s mantle, with the result that we lose the water-retaining capacity in some of the beneficial substances in the skin, which should contain some 10% to 15% water. If the water level falls to under 10%, dry skin problems develop: the skin becomes brittle, rough and dull and is more prone to eczema and infections. How can we ensure that the skin retains a minimum of water? Read More