A research team from the University of California San Diego has developed a needleless sensor that measures blood glucose through sweat, according to a press release from the institution.
The sensor, applied in a way similar to a temporary tattoo, is printed with material containing two electrodes applying a small current to measure blood sugar. The sensor, currently in a phase I study, was developed by researchers at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and is led by Joseph Wang, DSc, director of the school’s Center for Wearable Sensors, and Patrick Mercier, PhD, assistant professor in the school’s department of electrical and computer engineering.
“Just like a temporary kid’s tattoo, you apply it on the arm, dab with water and remove the back paper,” Mercier said in the release. “Our tattoo, however, is printed with material containing two electrodes that apply a small amount of electrical current. This forces glucose molecules that reside below the skin to rise to the surface, allowing us to measure blood sugar. It’s safe and you can’t really feel it.”
For the trial, the sensor is worn during fasting for several hours after eating and provides one readout. To validate accuracy, glucose levels from the sensor will be compared to results from simultaneous fingerstick glucose readings, according to the researchers. The trial is enrolling 50 adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
“The main purpose of our research is to develop new technologies that can monitor glucose without drawing blood and ideally measure it over the course of the day,” Mercier said in the release. “By giving this real-time information to patients, they can manage their consumption of sugars and injections of insulin much better than with periodic spot measurements.”
The research follows development of a similar noninvasive patch using nanotechnology. As Endocrine Today previously reported, a noninvasive, transdermal patch with an array of miniature “pixels” successfully measured blood glucose levels in the hair follicles of two healthy adults in in vivo models, according to findings from a proof-of-concept study published in Nature Nanotechnology. Those researchers plan to further refine the patch design to optimize the number of sensors in the array, to demonstrate full functionality during a 24-hour period and undertake clinical trials in people with diabetes. – by Regina Schaffer