Health & Wellbeing

"Diabetes breathalyzer" could put an end to the pokes

"Diabetes breathalyzer" could ...
New technology could allow diabetes to be diagnosed without drawing any blood
New technology could allow diabetes to be diagnosed without drawing any blood
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New technology could allow diabetes to be diagnosed without drawing any blood
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New technology could allow diabetes to be diagnosed without drawing any blood

Ordinarily, diabetes is diagnosed via painful and invasive blood tests. If research currently being performed at the University of Oxford is anything to go by, however, patients may soon just have to blow into a reusable breathalyzer-like device.

Previous projects have already indicated that elevated levels of acetone in exhaled breath are an indicator of diabetes. There are also various other compounds in our breath, however, so isolating and measuring just the acetone can be tricky. While it is possible to do so using a mass spectrometer, the machines are relatively large and expensive.

The Oxford team's hand-held prototype device, on the other hand, is compact enough to be used in a regular doctor's office.

It utilizes an adsorbent polymer to capture exhaled acetone, which is subsequently released into an optical cavity within the device. There, a near-infrared laser is used to measure how much acetone is present in the breath. If the numbers are high enough to indicate possible diabetes, the user is alerted. In lab tests on human volunteers, the device's readings were found to closely match those obtained via mass spectrometry.

A paper on the study was recently published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Thanks to a different research project taking place at the University of Cambridge, it's also possible that breathalyzers could replace daily finger-prick blood tests for diabetics – by measuring isoprene in their exhaled breath.

Source: American Chemical Society

3 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
As a diabetic tired of finger painful pokes, I look forward to an alternative. I hope this works. I have seen others being developed that also does not include getting blood from ones fingertip.
keith14
Also as a diabetic I am sick of finger pricking. I have had more pricks than a dart board over the 30 years I have had taking blood samples. It would be nice if a device similar to this could be invented for day to day use for diabetics. I guess I will never see one in my lifetime. But the younger diabetics may in theirs.
Commontator
Looks promising. It makes me wonder whether diabetes affects regular alcohol detectors. I can already smell Chanel Bleu evaporating off the chops of avaricious lawyers as they rub their hands together, waiting for a chance in traffic court. Another prick-less system being tested is called Glucotrack. A small clothespin-like device clamps onto the patient's earlobe without making any holes and is subsequently offloaded to a base unit that a caregiver can show the doctor. Now, all we need is needle-free insulin. I saw an injector here [on New Atlas], which seems to work much like the ones we had in the navy. I hope it gets approved. It's comforting to think that our loved ones may soon be freed from a life of abject, painful jabbery. The time and energy saved from the hassle that surrounds puncturing cantankerous patients several times a day, can be better invested joining them in a nice, relaxing sauna, though I'll forego rolling around in snow afterwards and sip a decaf latte instead.