Scientists have created a non-invasive adhesive patch that promises the measurement of glucose levels through the skin without carrying out the painful finger-pricking blood tests among patients.
According to the reports of the World Health Organisation, the world-wide incidence of diabetes has risen from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030.
The adhesive patch does not pierce the skin, instead it draws glucose out from fluid between cells across hair follicles, which are individually accessed via an array of miniature sensors using a small electric current.
Researchers noted that the readings can be taken every ten to fifteen minutes over several hours, as the glucose keeps collecting in tiny reservoirs.
“A non-invasive – that is, needle-less – method to monitor blood sugar has proven a difficult goal to attain. The closest that has been achieved has required either at least a single-point calibration with a classic ‘finger-stick’, or the implantation of a pre-calibrated sensor via a single needle insertion,” said Richard Guy, Professor at Britain’s University of Bath.
“The monitor developed at Bath promises a truly calibration-free approach, an essential contribution in the fight to combat the ever-increasing global incidence of diabetes,” Guy added.
In addition, each miniature sensor of the array, in the low-cost wearable sensor, can operate on a small area over an individual hair follicle, which significantly reduces inter-skin and intra-skin variability in glucose extraction.
The team tested the patch on both pig skin and on healthy human volunteers for the study, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
An effective, non-invasive way of monitoring blood glucose could both help diabetics, as well as those at risk of developing diabetes, make the right choices to either manage the disease well or reduce their risk of developing the condition, the researchers said.