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A non-invasive adhesive patch to measure glucose levels without a finger-prick test (2018-04-21)

Scientists have created a non-invasive adhesive patch which promises to measure glucose levels without a finger-prick test.  The 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. The glucose collects in tiny reservoirs and is measured.

Readings can be taken every 10 to 15 minutes over several hours.

Crucially, because of the design of the array of sensors and reservoirs, the patch does not require calibration with a blood sample – meaning that finger prick blood tests are unnecessary.

Having established proof of the concept behind the device in a study published in Nature Nanotechnology, the research team from the University of Bath hopes that it can eventually become a low-cost, wearable sensor that sends regular, clinically relevant glucose measurements to the wearer’s phone or smartwatch wirelessly, alerting them when they may need to take action.

An important advantage of this device over others is that each miniature sensor of the array can operate on a small area over an individual hair follicle – this significantly reduces inter- and intra-skin variability in glucose extraction and increases the accuracy of the measurements taken such that calibration via a blood sample is not required.

This path-selective, non-invasive, transdermal glucose monitoring system based on a miniaturized pixel array platform (realized either by graphene-based thin-film technology, or screen-printing) samples glucose from the interstitial fluid via electroosmotic extraction through individual, privileged, follicular pathways in the skin, accessible via the pixels of the array.

A proof of principle using mammalian skin ex vivo is demonstrated for specific and ‘quantized’ glucose extraction/detection via follicular pathways, and across the hypo-to hyper-glycaemic range in humans.

Furthermore, the quantification of follicular and non-follicular glucose extraction fluxes is clearly shown.

When Dr. Adelina Ilie's team, from University of Bath, UK, tested in two healthy human volunteers, the device provided glucose results that closely matched levels measured in the blood, researchers reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

In vivo continuous monitoring of interstitial fluid-borne glucose with the pixel array was able to track blood sugar in healthy human subjects.

This approach paves the way to clinically relevant glucose detection in diabetics without the need for invasive, finger-stick blood sampling.

The researchers stress that the device needs further development before it becomes a wearable, simple, blood-free way to measure blood sugar levels.

For more information
nature nanotechnology
Non-invasive, transdermal, path-selective and specific glucose monitoring via a graphene-based platform

University of Bath