The world's first functional breathalyzer for diabetes has been created by scientists who say the new hand-held device can be used to track blood sugar levels, offering a needle-free alternative to pin pricks now used to draw blood to test for glucose multiple times a day.
The advance, unveiled at a meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in San Antonio this week, uses nanotechnology to detect acetone in the breath of diabetics — a chemical that has been shown to correlate with blood-glucose levels.
"Breathalyzers are a growing field of study because of their potential to have a significant positive impact on patients' quality of life and compliance with diabetes monitoring," said Ronny Priefer, of Western New England University, who created the new device. "What makes our technology different is that it only accounts for acetone and doesn't react with other components in the breath."
Priefer noted the current device is the size of a book, but his team is working with an engineering team to make it as small as a typical alcohol-detecting breathalyzer.
Priefer said he will use two Western New England University clinics to test the new device on patients over the next two years, by comparing readings from the breathalyzer, finger pricking, and actual glucose levels from drawn blood.
Diabetes, which affects nearly 350 million people worldwide, is an autoimmune disease that prevents the cellular uptake of sugar from the blood and often requires continuous blood-glucose monitoring using needle sticks to draw blood.
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