A new rapid and painless sensor that monitors blood sugar in human perspiration might mean fewer finger pricks for millions of diabetics.
Monitoring blood sugar to ensure it stays within the desired range is essential for diabetes treatment, but the discomfort of daily finger pricks can be an impediment for many.
Testing Blood Sugar Using Sweat Can Be Possible
The experimental, touch-based device detects blood sugar in perspiration and uses a tailored algorithm to connect it with blood glucose levels. According to new proof-of-concept research, it is more than 95% accurate in predicting blood glucose levels before and after meals.
The novel sweat test isn’t quite ready for prime time yet since large-scale studies are needed to confirm the methodology, but diabetes specialists who weren’t involved in the new study remain cautiously optimistic.
No-prick glucose testing has been a type of Holy Grail in diabetes, and perhaps someone will cross the finish line one day, as per Dr. John Buse, head of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Diabetes Center. These findings imply that there is yet hope.
The hunt for an alternative to finger-prick testing to enhance diabetes control and quality of life for those living with the condition is ongoing, and sweat has several advantages. Fingers have many sweat glands and produce a lot of perspiration, yet sweat contains less glucose than blood. Furthermore, readings may differ from actual results depending on other skin features, resulting in erroneous blood sugar estimations.
A sweat-absorbing polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel rests on the top of a flexible plastic strip in the novel sensor. Individuals place their finger on the sensor for one minute, during which time the hydrogel absorbs tiny quantities of perspiration and performs a reaction that results in a little electrical current recorded by a handheld device.
To ensure the accuracy of the reading, researchers used a normal finger-prick test to detect volunteers’ blood sugar and devised a custom mathematical formula that could translate each person’s sweat glucose levels to their blood glucose levels. A diabetic would only require a finger prick once or twice a month to calibrate the gadget.
The researchers, led by Joseph Wang, a professor of Nanoengineering at the California University, San Diego, found that such a quick and easy touch-based blood-free fingertip sweat glucose test has great promise for improved patient compliance and diabetes treatment. Their findings were recently issued in the journal ACS Sensors.
Buse believes that this is a fascinating technology and hopes that the team will be able to bring it to completion, although many concerns remain.
Researchers would need to investigate the effects of soap from hand washing, lotions, grime, and food residue on sweat-induced blood sugar measurements, as well as the expense and complexity of the experiment, he added.
Buse inquired if a commercial version need a specific wipe, three minutes of sweat buildup, and one minute of contact. Though it may sound excessive, he believes that some of the 30 million diabetic patients in the United States might prefer it to a finger prick.
The conclusion is that there is a lot of work to be done here, but there is optimism, according to Buse.
Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, acknowledged that this method is unique and somewhat promising. If the program is accurate and scalable, it might revolutionize glucose monitoring.
Needle-free testing is far more appealing to diabetics. This is a proof of concept, and bringing it to wider use would likely take years, according to Sood.
The University of California, San Diego’s Center supported the writers for Wearable Sensors and the Korean National Research Foundation.