Diabetes affects lots of people. Whether it be Type I or Type II, the patient needs to check their blood sugar levels on a regular basis. This usually involves a painful prick of the fingertip to gain the required information. The healthcare professionals that treat diabetes have for a long time battled to find a reliable and painless way to gather blood sugar data.
There have been forward movement in the field and only last year, Google announced that they were developing contact lenses, which measure glucose levels in the wearers’ tears.
It seems as though now, there may have been a breakthrough in the technology used to measure blood sugar levels. Nano-engineers from the University of San Diego may have found an easy way for diabetes patients to monitor their blood sugar levels, and it comes on the form of a temporary tattoo.
Amay Bandodkar, a researcher at the University, has created a flexible sensor, which uses a soft electrical current to measure glucose levels in a the wearers’ body. As you are no doubt aware, measuring blood sugar levels, numerous times every day, is vital for diabetes patients because the data tells them how well their body is managing the disease and also the dose (if any) of insulin they may require.
Many people (including myself) find needles unpleasant. In fact, some diabetes patients tend to avoid measuring their blood sugar levels because of this, which puts them at a higher risk of developing further serious medical complications. The new flexible sensor is painless; It contains electrodes that are printed onto a thin tattoo paper, which the patient can dispose after use.
In a statement Bandodkar said,”Presently the tattoo sensor can easily survive for a day…These are extremely inexpensive — a few cents — and hence can be replaced without much financial burden on the patient.”
The team behind the project reported in a recent issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry that the flexible temporary tattoo has provided accurate glucose data for seven healthy patients. These patients were all male non-diabetics that were between the ages of 20 and 40. The test subjects wore the tattoos before consuming a sandwich and drinking a soda. Following the carbohydrate-rich meal, the tattoo recorded the spike in each of the patient’s glucose levels as accurately as a traditional finger needle device would do.
The new flexible tattoo is only a few steps away from providing the numeric value of glucose levels. Therefore scientists have to remove and then analyze it, in order to retrieve its measurements. Bandodkar said the tattoo will eventually have “Bluetooth capabilities to send this information directly to the patient’s doctor in real-time or store data in the cloud.”
The research team hope the tattoo will one day be used to monitor levels of other compounds that are found in the blood, such as metabolites, medications, or alcohol and illegal drugs.
[Image via unocero]