The end of finger pricking for diabetics?

Diabetics know all too well the pain, annoyance, and sometimes messiness or the daily finger jabs they endure to monitor their blood sugar levels. People need to test their blood glucose at least 4 times a day if not more. That results in at least 1,500 needle pricks a year! There are two different forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Both are caused by an inability to regulate blood sugar resulting in prolonged periods of high levels of sugar in the blood. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks the bodies insulin producing cells. Type 2 diabetes is the result of insulin desensitization usually due to poor diet and obesity. Regardless of the cause of the disorder, sufferers around the world need an easy, cost effective, and painless way to monitor their blood sugar levels.
An engineering group out of the University of Leeds has made it their mission to develop a non-invasive technique to measure glucose levels in diabetics. The device, called the Glucosense Monitor, works by shining  a low strength laser on a piece of silicon. This cause the silicon to fluoresce. When the user places their finger in the device, the amount of fluorescence coming off the silicon changes with the amount of glucose in the persons blood. This technique can measure the blood sugar level in less than 30 seconds with no blood, no needles, and no test strips. In a pilot clinical trial, it was suggested that the new device could function as well as the current devices.

Many more clinical trials are needed before this type of device is accepted by the regulatory agency’s. The upside of this device goes beyond its non-invasive interface. It also has the ability to easier monitor blood sugar levels continuously throughout the day. Currently, the device fits onto a table top but future iterations could be developed into wearable technology like a watch or arm band. This would be a step up from current invasive methods for continuous monitoring. There is even the possibility that this device could be developed into an app to continuously polt your blood sugar levels throughout the day. This type of information is invaluable in monitoring and controlling disease. There is much interest in continuous monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Let’s hope this technology gets going, it has the potential to change the lies of many people.
Image courtesy of Glucosense

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