Developing a Painless Glucose Monitor

Scientists at the University of Leeds have developed a device that avoids the constant finger pricks in hyperglycemic patients.

A no-prick blood glucose monitoring device developed by researchers at the University of Leeds could prove to be a boon for diabetic patients the world over. The development of this continuous monitoring device has now been licensed to Glucosense Diagnostics, a spin-off of the University of Leeds and a biomedical and healthcare technology group NetScientific plc, which helps commercialize academic discoveries and inventions.

The credit for this device development goes to the collaborative efforts between a materials scientist, Professor Gin Jose at the University of Leeds, and a clinician, Professor Peter Grant, at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, who conducted a pilot clinical trial to test the device. The pilot showed that the device matches-up with existing conventional technologies.

According to a report in ScienceDaily, at the center of the device is a piece of nano-engineered silica glass with ions that fluoresce in infrared light when a low power laser light hits them. When the glass is in contact with the users' skin, the extent of fluorescence signal varies in relation to the concentration of glucose in their blood. The device measures the length of time the fluorescence lasts for and uses that to calculate the glucose level in a person's bloodstream without the need for a needle—a process that lasts less than 30 seconds.

The advantage of this potentially wearable technology, in addition to its obvious ease of use, is that it is pain free, does not require implants, and could reduce wastage by eliminating the need for needles and sample strips. Although the company claims the device is cost-effective, that remains to be seen. If it improves self-management as it claims, the device could help control wide fluctuations in glucose levels and also reduce physician visits and healthcare utilization.