For diabetics, pricking their fingers each day to test the glucose in their blood is a necessary but painful ritual. But it could be a thing of the past, thanks to the introduction of a new patch that can easily and effectively extract and measure blood-sugar levels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 29 million Americans are currently battling some form of diabetes. For most, the only way to test their blood glucose levels is to use a spring-loaded needle; it’s an annoying though important part of staying healthy.
But there’s hope on the way: researchers at the University of California, San Diego, are working on a small patch consisting of sensors and patterned electrodes. Once applied, the patch — which is placed on the skin like a temporary tattoo — painlessly extracts fluid from the skin. The included sensors then measure the blood’s sugar levels.
This is hardly the first noninvasive glucose sensor meant to help diabetics avoid painful finger-pricking. However, it is the simplest alternative we’ve seen so far.
Unfortunately, it could be some time before the patch is available to the wider public. Joseph Wang, a University of California, San Diego, researcher at the school’s Center for Wearable Sensors, says more testing needs to be done before the device is ready for continuous use. Looking down the road, Wang says the goal is to develop an instrument that can display the glucose reading to the person using the device. It’s also hoped that further research will help in finding a way to make the device more affordable.
The researchers’ proof of concept can be viewed in the journal Analytical Chemistry.