Every athlete — even the casual jogger — knows about hitting the wall, that moment when energy levels drop off a cliff and going on is not an option. That’s typically because lactate levels have spiked in the body, which results in fatigue.
Therefore, a team of researchers, led by University of California, San Diego professor Joseph Wang, have designed a flexible, electrochemical biosensor that athletes can wear like a temporary tattoo. When applied to the skin, the sensor continuously measures lactate levels in the athlete’s perspiration.
Tests on 10 human volunteers accurately demonstrated the biosensor’s ability to measure lactate levels during exercise. Current methods for measuring such levels are much more difficult and require blood samples that do not give instant results.
During exercise, when muscles require more energy than the body can offer from aerobic respiration, the body begins producing lactic acid and lactate. This suffices for a while, but eventually lactate builds up. Wearing this new biosensor could let athletes know when they’re approaching their threshold so they can ease off the throttle.
“Such skin-worn metabolite biosensors could lead to useful insights into physical performance and overall physiological status, hence offering considerable promise for diverse sport, military and biomedical applications,” the researches said in a statement.
Credit: American Chemical Society