Diabetes: New patch could improve lives of sufferers

Could this be the end of skin prick tests and injections?

A Smart Patch for Diabetes

A non-invasive smart patch to keep glucose levels in check could mean that diabetes sufferers of diabetes may soon be able to do away with finger prick tests and injections.

Kim Dae-Hyeong, researcher at the Institute for Basic Science and professor at Seoul National University in South Korea, says: "The device is a type of patch which enables diabetic patients to monitor blood sugar levels via sweat without taking blood samples."

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After analysing the patient's sweat to sense glucose, the patch's embedded sensors constantly test pH, humidity, and temperature - all important factors for accurate blood sugar readings.

The graphene-based patch is studded with micro-needles coated with medication that pierce the skin painlessly. When the patch senses above normal glucose levels, a tiny heating element switches on which dissolves the medication coating the microneedles and releases it into the body.

The prototype worked well in mice trials.

"Diabetic patients can easily use our device because it does not cause any pain or stress them out," says Dae-Hyeong.

"So they can monitor and manage blood glucose levels more often to prevent increasing it. Therefore, our device can greatly contribute to helping patients avoid complications of the disease."

Researchers want to lower the cost of production, while figuring out how to deliver enough medication to effectively treat humans - both major hurdles towards commercialisation. The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in March.

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