Non-invasive device monitors diabetes using microwaves

The researchers believe that with the right investment, the microwave device could make it to market within five years(Credit: Cardiff University)

For diabetics, keeping track of blood sugar can be a drag, with Type 1 sufferers having to monitor their levels as much as six times a day. A new device might make life significantly easier, providing a non-invasive solution for tracking glucose levels, without the need to extract blood.

Diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and its prevalence has been rising steadily over the decades. If not kept in check, the condition can lead to blindness, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and more.

The disease is characterized by increased blood sugar levels, caused by either a lack of insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas, or an inability to properly make use of produced insulin. Keeping track of the disease can be pretty laborious, requiring the regular extraction of blood to keep track of glucose levels.

The new sensor, developed by researchers at the UK's Cardiff University, could make life a lot easier for diabetics. Rather than requiring them to prick their skin to get a blood sample, it simply sticks to the body via adhesives, and uses microwave emissions to keep tabs of glucose levels in the blood. The data is collected by the device, and sent back to the user's phone or computer for feedback.

Sticking a machine that emits microwaves to your arm or the side of your body might not seem like the best idea in the world, but the researchers claim that it's entirely safe. According to the team, the levels used are around 1,000 times less than those produced by the average smartphone.

The device has already been used in clinical trials with some 50 patients, and could be available to customers in the not too distant future. The team believes that with the right investment, it could arrive on shelves in as little as five years.

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