New Biosensor Detects Glucose Levels In Tears and Sweat

Monitoring glucose levels through tears or sweat is nearing reality with the development of an ultra thin, flexible sensor that could be integrated into contact lenses, or the backs of watches.

Many people already wear sensors that monitor physical phenomenon such as heart rates, or how many steps we take. Designing sensors that monitor glucose molecules has been more challenging, but a successful result could significantly improve some people’s quality of life.

Glucose sensitive sensors may, for instance, free insulin users from the necessity of daily finger pricks to measure blood sugar levels. This painful process prevents some people from monitoring regularly.

Though wearable glucose sensors have been in development for some time, progress has been slowed by a couple persistent problems. Some models could not detect low levels of glucose present in tears or sweat, and many prototypes have stopped working if bent.

To address these issues Moh Amer, Chongwu Zhou, and colleagues created a biosensor with nano ribbons using indium oxide, glucose oxidase (an enzyme), chitosan* film, and single-walled carbon nanotubes. Glucose interacts with the enzyme, triggering short chain reactions that turn into electrical signals.

In tests the biosensor detected glucose concentrations from 10 nanomolar to 1 millimolar—sensitive enough to read blood sugar levels in tears, saliva, and sweat. Also, the biosensor did not noticeably alter its performance after being bent 100 times.

The study was published in the journal ACS Nano.

Source: ACS
Photo credit: LMAP

*Chitosan is made from the chitin shells of shrimp and other crustaceans.

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