While there are already biosensors that help people manage type 2 diabetes, they're single-use devices that have to be replaced on a daily basis. That could be about to change, however, thanks to research being conducted by scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas. Led by Prof. Shalini Prasad, they've created a diabetes-monitoring tool that's good for up to a week.
Worn on the wrist like a bracelet, the biosensor utilizes a gel known as room temperature ionic liquid (RTIL) to analyze minute amounts of sweat on the skin. In doing so, it measures concentrations of three interconnected compounds – cortisol, glucose and interleukin-6.
"If a person has chronic stress, their cortisol levels increase, and their resulting insulin resistance will gradually drive their glucose levels out of the normal range," says Prasad. "At that point, one could become pre-diabetic, which can progress to type 2 diabetes, and so on. If that happens, your body is under a state of inflammation, and this inflammatory marker, interleukin-6, will indicate that your organs are starting to be affected."
Ultimately, it is envisioned that the device will contain a small transceiver, allowing it to transmit data to a smartphone app at the push of a button.
"If you measure levels every hour on the hour for a full week, that provides 168 hours' worth of data on your health as it changes," states Prasad. "People can take more control and improve their own self-care. A user could learn which unhealthy decisions are more forgiven by their body than others."
Plans call for the device to be inexpensively mass-produced, so it can be affordable to people in developing nations as well as first world countries. The university is currently seeking a commercial partner, and hopes to have the technology on the market within a year.
Source: University of Texas at Dallas