Needles do a fine job of putting the blood sugar in check but the daily ritual proves to be a painful task. Day after day the same thing happens and it becomes unbearable to many diabetics.
There’s a better alternative in the offing. Instead of that daily needle encounter, a tiny patch will take its place. This tiny patch will act as medical technologist and a lab machine combined together. The patch will extract minute amounts of blood and at the same time measure the blood sugar levels.
It’s easy to install, simple to use, and can be applied in any part of your body where it remains invisible to everybody. For 29.1 million diabetics, this is a step in the right direction. This non-invasive monitoring patch is jut timely according to Centers for Disease Control.
This innovation was the brainchild of a team of nanoengineers at University of California, San Diego, and you can read their research concept in the journal Analytical Chemistry.
The device is approximately thick as a tape, with s tiny sensor, and consists of designed screen-printed electrodes on a tattoo decal paper. When a mild electrical charge is applied to the skin, it will absorb fluid from the skin, the enzymes in the sensor will go to work by measuring glucose concentration in the blood.
During the test, the USD scientists applied their idea on seven volunteers after eating a huge meal. The glucose reading from the tattoo matched those of the standard monitor using finger prick method.
This is not however an original idea. Another one in 2002 by Cygnus called Glucowatch was first in the market and is FDA approved.
Nonetheless, the tattoo has a great advantage over it since the tattoo no longer require users to calibrate the device by using a standard test strip.
Users also complain of skin irritation since Glucowatch needs a higher electrical charge for it to work. Users find it uncomfortable to use.
Joseph Wang, one of the authors of the study and the chair of the school’s Center for Wearable Sensors, said that since the tattoo utilizes much lower electrical charge, it doesn’t bring any skin irritation at all.
Another thing, GlucoWatch doesn’t eliminate the use of finger-prick altogether which the tattoo does.
“There’s still more work to be done to make the device suitable for continuous use”, he says.
He continued, “Once the concept is optimized, it could be a much cheaper, more convenient alternative to glucose strips, which average more than a dollar each. And removing such cost and comfort barriers could encourage millions of diabetics to comply with the treatment they need”
He explained that his department is in the process of developing a display instrument for glucose reading which the users can use. And one thing more, patients would be able to send the result to their doctor right away by utilizing Bluetooth.