London (ISJ) – A team of scientists at University of Leeds, UK has developed a laser-based non-invasive devise to measure blood glucose levels. The new laser sensor monitors blood glucose levels without penetrating the skin.
The current practice is to prick fingers, squeeze drop of blood onto a test strip and process the result with portable glucometers. The process can be uncomfortable, messy and often has to be repeated several times every day.
The new technology, developed by Professor Gin Jose and a team in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds, uses a small device with low-powered lasers to measure blood glucose levels without penetrating the skin. It could give people a simpler, pain-free alternative to finger pricking.
The technology has continuous monitoring capabilities making it ideal for development as a wearable device. This could help improve the lives of millions of people by enabling them to constantly monitor their glucose levels without the need for an implant.
It is also good news for healthcare providers as it offers a simpler and cheaper alternative the current methods – finger pricking, which uses disposable sample strips, or invasive continuous monitors, which use implanted sensors that need regular replacement.
“Unlike the traditional method, this new non-invasive technology can constantly monitor blood glucose levels,” said Professor Gin Jose, an alumni of Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala. “This technology opens up the potential for people with diabetes to receive continuous readings, meaning they are instantly alerted when intervention is needed.”
Professor Jose said, once finally developed, this wearable device would be just one step from a product which sends alerts to smart phones or readings directly to doctors, allowing them to profile how a person is managing his/her diabetes. It will also allow people to self-regulate and minimise emergency hospital treatment.
At the heart of the new technology is a piece of nano-engineered silica glass with ions that fluoresce in infrared light when a low power laser light hits them. When the glass is in contact with the users’ skin, the extent of fluorescence signal varies in relation to the concentration of glucose in their blood. The device measures the length of time the fluorescence lasts for and uses that to calculate the glucose level in a person’s bloodstream without the need for a needle. This process takes less than 30 seconds.
“The glass used in our sensors is hardwearing, acting in a similar way as that used in smartphones. Because of this, our device is more affordable, with lower running costs than the existing self-monitoring systems,” said Prof. Jose.
“Currently, we are piloting a bench top version in our clinical investigations but aim to develop two types of devices for the market. One will be a finger-touch device similar to a computer mouse. The other will be a wearable version for continuous monitoring.”
The results of a pilot clinical study, carried out at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine under the supervision of Professor Peter Grant, suggest the new monitor has the potential to perform as good as conventional technologies. More clinical trials and product optimization are required for regulatory approvals and before the technology can be put on the market.
Source: University of Leeds, UK
Image courtesy: University of Leeds