New advances in laser technology could soon allow diabetes patients to test their blood glucose without having to break the skin.
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Electrical engineers at Princeton University in New Jersey have recently developed a prototype device that measures blood sugar by simply aiming a laser at a person’s palm. The laser beam passes through skins cells en route to the molecules found in dermal interstitial fluid, which is similar to blood sugar. Researchers then record how much of the laser beam is absorbed, helping them understand the amount of glucose in a patient’s blood. So far, it appears this method of testing blood glucose levels is substantially more accurate than the traditional procedure.
The best part: the device leaves patients feeling no pain and doesn’t draw any blood. “With this work we hope to improve the lives of many diabetes sufferers who depend on frequent blood glucose monitoring,” noted Claire Gmachl, an electrical engineering professor at Princeton.
But there’s still work to be done before this new piece of laser technology can become available for widespread use. First and foremost, the researchers want to make the technology smaller, thereby making it more portable and easier to transport.
Still, there’s no doubting the device’s potential. Not only could it change how diabetes patients monitor their blood sugar, it could even assist doctors in detecting other medical issues. According to Gmachl, because the laser “can be designed to emit light across a very wide wavelength range, its usability is not just for glucose detection, but could conceivably be used for other medical sensing and monitoring applications.”