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In 1955, Dr. Harry Shwachman, head of Boston Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Clinic, developed the first practical sweat test to diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF). It involved encasing the patient’s body in a plastic bag to collect sweat, then using the pictured device to measure levels of salt in the sample. Cystic fibrosis causes sweat to be 2-5 times saltier than average. The sweat test allowed for much simpler and earlier diagnosis of CF, crucial to effective treatment. A version of it is still the main diagnostic tool used today.
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