Researchers at the University of Leeds have developed a platform using nano-engineered, fluorescent silica glass and low powered laser technology to measure blood glucose – without a single drop of blood.
With the growing burden of diabetes, there is a lot of interest in making blood glucose tracking less painful and easier for patients. As we covered last year, Google X developed a prototype glucose-sensing contact lens for continuous blood glucose monitoring – that device has since been licensed to Novartis for further development and commercialization.
Dr. Gin Jose, an engineering professor at the University of Leeds has developed a platform that basically uses a very thin piece of nano-engineered silica that fluoresces when illuminated with a low power laser. Putting the glass on a person’s skin, they were able to use the duration of fluorescence to figure out the blood glucose level. According to Dr. Jose, “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.”
The technology has been licensed to Glucosense, a startup spun out of the University of Leeds in partnership with Netscientific. There are plans to develop a wearable version for continuous monitoring and a hand-held finger touch device for spot checks.
According to the University of Leeds, promising pilot studies have been carried out by Dr. Peter Grant at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine. There are now plans for further clinical trials.
Right now, the only way to check blood glucose is with a sample of blood, usually through a finger prick. A few years ago, in an effort to convince a diabetic family member to check their blood sugar regularly, I volunteered to check mine with them to prove it wasn’t that bad. That project ended in a few days after I realized that it is that bad! That was an important lesson, one that I try to keep close at hand when I see patients now.
Hopefully a few years from now though, tracking blood glucose will be a very different experience. If effective, these technologies could have an incredible impact on the lives of people with diabetes.
Source: University of Leeds