New Technology May Test Blood Sugar Without a Finger-stick

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Researchers have discovered a way to detect glucose levels in body fluids other than blood. The new nano-technology can use tears and saliva to evaluate the level of glucose in the system.

The research findings are published in Advanced Functional Materials and researcher Jonathan C. Claussen says:

"Many in the literature aren't able to detect glucose in tears and the saliva. What's unique is that we can sense in all four different human serums: the saliva, blood, tears and urine. And that hasn't been shown before."

While the technology may be years from public use, insurance companies and health officials alike may be pleased by the possibility of less invasive testing and lower cost of materials. ResearcherAnurag KumarSays:

"Typically, when you want to make a nanostructured biosensor you have to use a lot of processing steps before you reach the final biosensor product. That involves lithography, chemical processing, etching and other steps. The good thing about these petals is that they can be grown on just about any surface, and we don't need to use any of these steps, so it could be ideal for commercialization."

The technology uses nanoparticles of platinum, nanosheets of carbon, and the enzyme glucose oxidase, which is the chemical which reacts to the glucose. The reaction is then measured to assess the level of glucose. This structure is sensitive enough to react to glucose in the saliva, tears, blood and urine, which holds out hope for diabetics of a jab-free blood sugar monitoring future.

Beyond Diabetes

This technology may have far reaching implications. The glucose reacting enzyme can be replaced with other reactive material to test for other diseases as well. Claussen said:

We could just swap out that enzyme with, for example, glutemate oxidase, to measure the neurotransmitter glutamate to test for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, or ethanol oxidase to monitor alcohol levels for a breathalyzer. It's very versatile, fast and portable."