Newborns can present with a variety of conditions, but diagnosing such small and non-compliant patients is frequently a serious challenge. Identifying type 1 diabetes, for example, requires accessing the interstitial fluid in a baby’s skin, an unpleasant affair for everyone involved. Moreover, diagnostic technologies are generally only available inside hospitals and so conditions can go undetected early in a child’s development.
Now, researchers from University of California, San Diego and University of Alcalá in Spain have developed a pacifier with a built-in biosensor that can measure, in real-time, glucose concentrations in a newborn’s saliva. The technology has potential for nearly automatic post-birth diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and other conditions for which glucose is a biomarker.
The pacifier uses a thin channel within the nipple to pull saliva into a detector. Inside, the glucose-oxidase (GOx) enzyme reacts with the glucose in the saliva and a Prussian Blue (PB) electrode transducer strip is used to detect the reaction. The strength of the electric current produced by the strip is indicative of the amount of glucose in the sample, and this measure is transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone or other device.
Although developed for newborns, the device has been only tried on adult patients with type 1 diabetes. The researchers were able to measure rising and dropping glucose levels as the patient volunteers, doubtless feeling silly at having to suck on a pacifier, assessed their glucose before and after meals.
Study in journal Analytical Chemistry: Pacifier Biosensor: Toward Noninvasive Saliva Biomarker Monitoring