For those suffering with diabetes, measuring glucose on a regular basis is a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, it usually requires pricking the tip of your finger with a small needle and applying a small amount of blood to a metering device. A new technology developed by researchers in Germany may eliminate the need for painful finger pricks. The technology uses a biosensor on a tiny chip that can both analyze and measure glucose amounts in bodily fluids like tears and “radio” them to a mobile device.
Glucose is the form that sugar takes in the bloodstream. Diabetes affects the pancreas which is the body’s organ to regulate glucose levels in the blood. The pancreas secrete insulin to sweep the bloodstream of glucose when it gets too high. Type II diabetes patients have built up a resistance to insulin which causes the pancreas to fail. Type I diabetes patients are usually diagnosed in their youth and usually their pancreas are completely shut down. In this case, it is crucial for them to monitor the levels of glucose in their bloodstream regularly throughout the day. As you can imagine, pricking your finger several times per day can be a real pain. This is one reason a technology like the one pictured above would be very welcome among most diabetics.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg have developed a nano-scale biosensor that can be placed on the body and utilize tissue fluids other than blood to get a glucose measurement. Amazingly, the researchers have developed an entire system of measurement on a chip 0.5 x 2.0 millimeters in size. Even more amazing is the tiny sensor’s ability to transmit data wirelessly to a receiver where the patient can ascertain their levels. In the future, they hope to be able to use small chips like this to control insulin pumps in the patients body to more accurately dose the insulin needed.
For more information about this technology, see Fraunhofer’s website at http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2012/september/measuring-glucose-without-needle-pricks.html.