No More Needles: Measuring Blood Sugar With Light

Monday, 28 Oct 2013 03:40 PM

By Nick Tate

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Diabetics who must now draw small amounts of blood to measure their glucose levels may soon be able to kiss the needles goodbye. German researchers have developed a new blood-sugar monitor that uses light, applied to the top of the skin, to determine glucose levels.

The development, reported in the current edition of the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, involves the use of infrared laser light and can measure levels of blood sugar in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes as effectively as home electronic devices that read glucose concentrations in a tiny drop of blood drawn through a needle stick.
 
"This opens the fantastic possibility that diabetes patients might be able to measure their glucose level without pricking and without test strips," said lead researcher, Werner Mäntele, of Frankfurt's Institut für Biophysik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität.
 
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"Our goal is to devise an easier, more reliable and in the long-run, cheaper way to monitor blood glucose."
 
The new device uses "photoacoustic spectroscopy" (PAS) to measure glucose by its mid-infrared absorption of light. A painless pulse of laser light applied externally to the skin is absorbed by glucose molecules and creates a measurable sound signature that Mäntele's team refers to as "the sweet melody of glucose."
 
This signal enables researchers to detect glucose in skin fluids in seconds, he said.
 
The researchers expect to develop a small shoebox-sized device within three years, followed by a portable glucometer several years afterward.

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