A team of researchers at the University of California San Diego created a wearable device that uses a disposable microneedle patch to continuously sample and analyze interstitial fluid. The wearable can measure glucose, alcohol, and lactate levels, all of which could be useful information for patients with diabetes. The disposable patch is attached to a reusable electronic device that can communicate wirelessly with a smartphone app and which can be recharged using commercially available wireless charging stations. The researchers hope that the technology can be adapted to measure other health parameters, significantly expanding its potential uses.
Managing glucose levels can be a balancing act for patients with diabetes, but technology is well poised to take some of the work out of the equation. This latest wearable aims to provide real-time data on three parameters that are of interest for this patient population, and which could help them to manage their disease more effectively. The device provides information on glucose levels, as with existing commercial glucose monitors, but it also provides data on alcohol and lactate levels.
Alcohol can affect glucose levels, so it is useful for people with diabetes to keep an eye on their alcohol intake to help them anticipate any changes in glucose levels during or after drinking. Lactate levels are an indicator of muscle fatigue, such as during or after vigorous exercise, and this too can affect the body’s capacity to regulate glucose levels. Having more information on these parameters could assist in better glucose management.
“With our wearable, people can see the interplay between their glucose spikes or dips with their diet, exercise and drinking of alcoholic beverages. That could add to their quality of life as well,” said Farshad Tehrani, a researcher involved in the study.
The device itself is small and unobtrusive, at approximately the size of a stack of six quarters. The microneedles penetrate the skin and sample the interstitial fluid, using enzymes on the tip of each needle that react with the target substances in the interstitial fluid. This reaction generates a tiny electric current that the device can detect and then relay this data to a smartphone.
“This is like a complete lab on the skin,” said Joseph Wang, one of the developers of the new device. “It is capable of continuously measuring multiple biomarkers at the same time, allowing users to monitor their health and wellness as they perform their daily activities.”
See a video demonstrating the device below.
Study in Nature Biomedical Engineering: An integrated wearable microneedle array for the continuous monitoring of multiple biomarkers in interstitial fluid