Diabetics May One Day Measure Blood Glucose With Laser Light, Not Needles
October 26, 2013

Light-Based Glucose Monitor For Diabetics Could Eliminate Need For Finger Pricks

[ Watch the Video: Lighting The Way To Better Diabetic Glucose Monitoring ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

German researchers have reportedly developed a novel, non-invasive method that uses infrared laser light to help monitor the blood glucose levels of people suffering from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Currently, diabetes patients use electronic devices that require a small drop of blood in order to determine sugar levels. However, the new device would apply infrared light to the top of the skin, measuring the amount of glucose in the fluid in and under skin cells. A paper detailing their technique appears in the latest edition of Review of Scientific Instruments.

“This opens the fantastic possibility that diabetes patients might be able to measure their glucose level without pricking and without test strips,” lead researcher Dr. Werner Mäntele, a professor at the Institut für Biophysik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, said in a statement Friday. “Our goal is to devise an easier, more reliable and in the long-run, cheaper way to monitor blood glucose.”

The new method developed by Dr. Mäntele and his colleagues uses a process known as photoacoustic spectroscopy (PAS) to measure sugar by its mid-infrared absorption of light. Their device applies a painless pulse of laser light to the outside of the skin. That pulse is then absorbed by glucose molecules, creating a unique sound signature which the study authors refer to as the “sweet melody of glucose.”

That signal, they explain, enables experts to detect sugar in skin fluids in a matter of mere seconds. The data that shows skin-cell glucose levels at one-hundredth of a millimeter underneath is associated with blood sugar levels, Dr. Mäntele explained. However, air pressure, temperature and humidity changes caused by contact with living skin has hampered previous efforts to use PAS to record skin-cell sugar readings, the authors noted.

“To overcome these constraints, the team devised a design innovation of an open, windowless cell architecture. While it is still experimental and would have to be tested and approved by regulatory agencies before becoming commercially available, the team continues to refine it,” the American Institute of Physics (AIP), which publishes the Review of Scientific Instruments, explained.

Dr. Mäntele and his team are working with Elté Sensoric of Gelnhausen, Germany, and they plan to have a shoebox-sized version of the device ready in three years. A portable glucometer will follow. Other researchers involved in the project include Miguel A. Pleitez, Tobias Lieblein, Alexander Bauer, Otto Hertzberg, and Hermann von Lilienfeld-Toal, all of whom are affiliated with either the Institut für Biophysik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität or with Elté Sensoric.