Sensors may allow at-home measuring of levodopa levels

The 3D-printed portable sensors detect levodopa in patients' sweat

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Researchers have created a system that could be developed to allow at-home measuring of levodopa levels in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The system was described in the study “Smartphone-based detection of levodopa in human sweat using 3D printed sensors,” published in Analytica Chimica Acta.

Levodopa and its derivatives are a mainstay of treatment for Parkinson’s that can help to control disease symptoms. There are established methods that can be used to measure levels of levodopa in the body, but these generally require specialized analysis of blood draws, which can be cumbersome for patients and clinicians.

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Here, scientists developed sensors, called 3D-printed carbon electrodes (3DpCEs), that can be made inexpensively using 3D printing to detect levodopa levels in sweat.

The researchers estimated that the cost to make each sensor was less than a half-cent, and an industrial-quality 3D printer could manufacture about 400 of the 3DpCEs in an hour. The sensors also were shelf-stable at room temperature for more than a month, though their function was less reliable after about 35 days.

Through a battery of laboratory tests, the researchers showed that the 3DpCEs were able to accurately measure levodopa levels in sweat-like solutions. They also could detect uric acid, which is a common component of sweat that can be used to standardize readings of levodopa levels.

“The 3DpCEs permit simultaneous detection of both uric acid and [levodopa] over their biologically relevant ranges,” the researchers wrote.

Further tests showed that the sensor’s ability to detect levodopa was not affected by uric acid or other common sweat components at the levels that are typically found in sweat.

Bluetooth connection

The researchers then set up a system attaching the 3DpCEs to a device that allowed readings from the sensors to be transmitted by a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone. They showed this system also could accurately measure levodopa levels in sweat samples.

The scientists proposed that this system could be developed further to create technology that allows for at-home testing of levodopa levels. They said that “such a device, which is an aim of future research, would reduce the travel requirements for Parkinson’s Disease patients, while promoting high standards of care when combined with the growing field of telehealth.” (Telehealth refers to medical treatment delivered by phone or computer, rather than in-person).