While controlling blood sugar is extremely important for diabetics, one life-threatening consequence of treatment is hypoglycemia (defined by the American Diabetes Association as any blood sugar reading below 70 mg/dL). Low blood sugar can clinically present itself as decreased consciousness and even coma, and so it’s important to detect the cause of hypoglycemia quickly when these situations arise.
A major cause of hypoglycemia is excess sulfonylurea administration – taking a common medication without eating, or taking too much of it. Many, many trips to the emergency department arise from trouble with sylfonylurea meds.
Currently, there are no means of detecting sulfonylurea in the urine – for those patients whose reason for hypoglycemia isn’t obvious, it’s impossible to differentiate excessive use of sulfonylurea from other causes such as insulinoma (which requires emergency surgery). In this context, researchers at the Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Institute of Tehran University of Medical Sciences and scientists at the Center of Excellence in Electrochemistry at University of Tehran have invented an instrument capable of detecting sulfonylurea in urine.
According to the press release:
[Over the past 2 years], three different versions of the device have been developed and successfully tested. Several validation tests and clinical trials have been carried out and confirmed the efficacy of the invented device.
The time needed for the analysis is about 20 min, and the system works automatically without requiring to an expert operator. This device will be introduced to the market for being used in the emergency wards of hospitals and it is expected that it will play a very important role in differential diagnosis of comatose patients in whom intoxication with sulfonylurea is suspected.