An experimental device has been created that uses a patch to monitor blood sugar levels through sweat and uses micro-needles that deliver diabetes drug through the skin.
A team at Seoul National University, Republic of Korea, led by Dae-Hyeong Kim published their findings online on March 21 in the Nature Nanotechnology journal. Currently there are two options for monitoring glucose (blood sugar levels). The first requires a sick that uses a drop of blood for testing and the second requires a sensor placed underneath the skin for continuous monitoring. Both options can be painful and intrusive.
Using graphene, the research team have developed a thin patch that conducts electricity, is soft, thin, and can be transparent. It has a variety of sensors to detect humidity, glucose levels through sweat, pH and temperature, and heat sensitive micro-needles, according to the researchers.
The prototype was developed by assistant professor Dae-Hyeong Kim who partnered with MC10, a flexible eletrconics company in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Hyunjae Lee, a study author from Seoul National University said “Diabetics are reluctant to monitor their blood glucose levels because of the painful blood-gathering process. We are highly focused on a noninvasive monitoring and therapy system for diabetics.”
Researchers have tested the ability of the patch to accurately measure blood sugar levels and they were successful. Tae Kyu Choi, a study author from Seoul National University, said “We integrated a humidity sensor in the diabetes patch to check how much sweat is generated. So the person who perspires heavily wouldn’t affect the sensing.” They also tested for someone who perspires very little and found that the patch works in both conditions, whether or not you sweat a lot of very little.
This concept is still far from being available in the market. Lee and Choi have estimated that the device wouldn’t be available for at least five years. But when it does it might be one of the most important innovations in our time and could prove to lead to some revolutionary changes in how we monitor our health.