While current medical technology allows diabetics to closely monitor and manage their blood sugar levels, most patients need to prick their fingers multiple times a day to obtain blood samples. Researchers at the University of Tokyo and the BEANS Research Institute hope they can change that with new fluorescent hydrogel beads which glow at different intensities depending on glucose concentration. The researchers are currently testing the beads in mice, and hope to have a product which can monitor blood sugar without any patient intervention within ten years.
From the University of Tokyo Magazine’s Coverage:
The material we chose for this purpose consists of a soft polyacrylamide “hydrogel,” a substance with the texture of gelatin that is chemically bound to an anthracene derivative containing boronic acid, which fluoresces when it binds to glucose in the blood. With the help of microfluidic device technology geared to the manipulation of tiny volumes of fluid, we succeeded in processing this material into uniform beads approximately 0.1 millimeter in diameter. Because the beads are uniform in diameter they can travel to every part of the body. Implanting these beads in the thin-skinned ear of a lab mouse enabled us to observe from the outside changes in the brightness of the beads as they reacted to changes in glucose concentration. We also succeeded in measuring peripheral blood glucose concentrations by observing the changing fluorescence of the beads through the skin.
DigInfo TV’s Coverage: Implantable blood sugar sensor…
University of Tokyo Magazine: A Blood-Sugar Warning Light in Your Ear?! (pdf file; page 23)
(hat tip: Engadget)