NEW YORK — (DGIwire) — According to the American Diabetes Association, about 25.8 million U.S. residents have diabetes—and both they and their loved ones know how difficult each day can be.
Ideally, all diabetes patients would keep a food and activity journal; writing down what they eat, drink and do on a daily basis could be beneficial. It would, however, be optional. Another kind of monitoring is not optional: daily testing to make sure one’s blood sugar levels are where they must be. Failure to do this can lead to life-threatening consequences.
Having to stick a needle into oneself—sometimes multiple times a day—is no fun for anyone. Researchers are working on finding alternatives, although most are still in the earliest stages of development.
One example of a potential solution comes from MIT, where Professor Michael Strano and his team have built a sensor that can monitor nitrous oxide (NO) in living animals. Described in Nature Nanotechnology, these sensors can be implanted under the skin and used to monitor inflammation—a process that produces NO. Such sensors, made of carbon nanotubes, could also be adapted to detect other molecules, including glucose. Among other applications, Strano is working on creating sensors that could be implanted under the skin of diabetes patients to monitor their glucose or insulin levels, eliminating the need to take blood samples.
Thankfully, one Israel-based company is pursuing what might be a more immediate approach—allowing diabetes patients to monitor their blood glucose with less pain. Integrity Applications is led by president and CEO Avner Gal, who is determined to spare diabetes patients what he believes is a unnecessarily painful part of their daily routine. The company’s device, called GlucoTrack®, is a battery-operated reader. Not much larger than a smartphone, it includes a small sensor that clips comfortably onto the earlobe. Another great feature: GlucoTrack uses a USB port to connect with a computer and easily keeps track of and organizes the data it collects. GlucoTrack’s patented combination of ultrasonic, electromagnetic and thermal technologies provide a blood glucose measurement that is then displayed and announced on a small portable unit.
Soon diabetes patients might one day be able to say, “You made my day, GlucoTrack!”