A study by the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (South Korea) has unveiled a new way to measure blood sugar levels (BGL) without the need to draw blood.
It is a revolutionary and non-invasive technique to measure the levels of Blood glucose, using a glucose sensor based on electromagnetic waves (EM) that is inserted under the skin.
Their findings, published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’, have garnered much attention as it eliminates the need for diabetic patients to constantly prick their fingers with a glucose meter.
In this study, the research team proposed an electromagnetic-based sensor that can be implanted subcutaneously and is capable of tracking minute changes in the dielectric permittivity due to changes in the BGL.
the tiny sensor
The proposed sensor, which occupies about a fifth of a cotton swab, can measure changes in glucose concentrations in interstitial fluid (LIS), the fluid that fills the spaces between cells.
“The present work is an effort for the realization of an implantable sensor of electromagnetic base, which can be an alternative to the enzyme-based or optical glucose sensor. The proposed implantable sensor has not only overcome the drawbacks of current continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), such as short lifespan, but has also improved the accuracy of blood glucose prediction,” explained Dr. research team.
400 million people suffer from diabetes
Diabetes can be diagnosed if fasting blood glucose levels are 126 mg/dL or higher. A normal fasting glucose test result is less than 100 mg/dL. One of the main goals of diabetes treatment is to maintain blood glucose levels within a certain range. More than 400 million people worldwide live with diabetes. and they continue to suffer from pricking their fingers several times a day to check their blood glucose levels.
Various alternative methods to the finger-prick method, such as the enzyme-based or optical glucose sensor, have been extensively studied for the detection of blood glucose. However, they continue to struggle with long life, portability, and accuracy.
In this study, the research team introduced semi-permanent and continuous blood glucose management with low maintenance cost and without the pain caused by blood draws, allowing patients to enjoy a quality life through treatment and proper management of diabetes. This is expected to increase the use of CGMS, which is currently only 5 percent.
The research team also performed the intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT) and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) with the sensor implanted in pigs and beagles in a controlled environment. Results from the initial in vivo proof-of-concept experiment showed a promising correlation between the BGL and the sensor’s frequency response, according to the research team.
“Our proposed sensor and system are in an early stage of development. Despite this, in vivo proof-of-concept results show a promising correlation between BGL and sensor rate response. Indeed, the sensor shows the ability to follow the trend of the BGL. For the actual implantation of the sensor we must take into account biocompatible packaging and foreign body reactions (FBR) for long-term applications. In addition, an improved sensor interface system is being developed.”