Monitoring blood glucose levels is a necessity for diabetics to keep their levels on check. But pricking their fingers, squeezing drops of blood onto test strips, and processing the results with portable glucometers 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.
The device has a special silica glass that has ions throughout and fluoresces in infrared in response to laser light. The length of the fluorescence is proportional to the level of glucose present near the surface of the skin when the glass slide is pressed to a finger.
Simply measuring the duration of fluorescence provides an estimation of the sugar level in the blood. In a small scale clinical study at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, the technology has shown considerable promise to be able to match currently used glucometer.
Professor Jose said, "As well as being a replacement for finger-prick testing, this technology opens up the potential for people with diabetes to receive continuous readings, meaning they are instantly alerted when intervention is needed. This will allow people to self-regulate and minimize emergency hospital treatment."