Diabetes affects an estimated 26 million children and adults in the United States alone. The necessity for glucose monitoring via needle stick and test strips is a significant cost and source of pain for these patients. Now there may be a needle free solution thanks to researchers from Princeton University’s Engineering School.
The researchers have developed a prototype laser-based system to allow sufferers of diabetes to check their blood sugar levels without using a needle stick to draw blood. The system works by directing a laser beam at the patient’s palm and measuring the amount of absorption and scattering when the laser interacts with dermal interstitial fluid, which is strongly correlated with blood sugar levels.
At the core of the system is a relatively new quantum cascade laser which is particularly adept at producing mid-infrared frequencies. This frequency range is key as near-infrared frequencies, though more commonly found in existing medical devices, tend to interact with various acids and chemicals in the skin, making them less suitable for detecting changes in glucose levels.
The researchers have conducted early pilot testing of the technology, the results of which were published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express. Though significantly larger and less accurate than existing commercial glucometers, the sensor was able to achieve an 84% level of accuracy. The team acknowledges that there is substantial development work remaining in order to make the sensor portable. However, their research provides an interesting initial proof of concept.
Historical footnote: This is not the first time Medgadget has reported on a non-invasive laser glucose sensor. We covered some research being carried out a Syracuse University in 2005 which used a slightly different type of spectroscopy. Though a company was founded to commercialize the technology, it doesn’t appear to have made it to market yet.
Study in Biomedical Optics Express: Noninvasive in vivo glucose sensing on human subjects using mid-infrared light…