Painless Laser Glucose Monitoring: On The Horizon
A new technology might eliminate finger pricking and test strips when measuring blood glucose.
The cutting-edge device, developed at the University of Leeds, measures blood sugar levels using low-powered lasers; no skin penetration is involved. It can also provide continuous glucose readings.
Increased Control and Freedom
This monitoring innovation would give millions of people with type 1 or 2 diabetes freedom from finger pain, cumbersome testing paraphernalia, and improve their blood sugar control.
The developers are working on two instrument options. One is a finger-touch device about the size and shape of a computer mouse. The second is a wearable continuous monitoring mechanism that does not require an implant.
“Non-invasive monitoring will be particularly valuable in young people with type 1 diabetes. Within this group, those who are attempting very tight control such as young women going through pregnancy, or people who are experiencing recurrent hypoglycemia could find this technology very useful,” said Professor Grant, diabetes specialist, University of Leeds.
Infrared Glow Reveals Glucose
The key to this new technology is nano-engineered silica glass containing ions. The ions glow infrared when hit with a low power laser light.
When users place a finger against the glass, the duration of the infrared signal varies according to the concentration of glucose in their blood. The signal’s length is used, by the device, to calculate a person’s blood sugar level. The entire process takes about 30 seconds.
“The glass used in our sensors is hardwearing, acting in a similar way as that used in smartphones. Because of this, our device is more affordable, with lower running costs than the existing self-monitoring systems,” said Professor Gin Jose, one of the product’s developers.
Life Changing Potential
A pilot clinical study done through the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine indicates the new device has the potential to monitor as well as the current technologies—but without pain, and at less cost.
The wearable option will be able to send alerts to smart phones, or transmit glucose readings directly to physician offices. Both device options can free people from some of the limitation imposed by frequent monitoring and minimize emergency hospital treatment.
Until a cure for diabetes is found, life changing technologies such as this one will be followed with interest.