April 28, 2009

Less invasive blood glucose test developed

Canadian biomedical engineers say they have designed an electronic skin patch that can be used for quick and painless blood glucose testing by diabetics.

The researchers at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering said their device might one day provide a less-invasive alternative for diabetics to take regular samples of their own blood to keep glucose levels in check.

The engineers said the current method of drawing blood from fingertips and using glucose testing strips and meters can be painful, inconvenient and time-consuming.

The researchers, who have patented their device called the Electronic Mosquito, said the patch is approximately the size of a deck of cards and contains four micro-needles that bite sequentially at programmed intervals. The needles are electronically controlled to penetrate the skin deep enough to draw blood from a capillary, but not deep enough to hit a nerve. That means patients would experience little or no pain.

The engineers said the patch could be worn anywhere on the body where it could obtain accurate readings of capillary blood.

This is a dramatic improvement over manual poking, particularly for children and elderly patients, said Martin Mintchev, director of the Low Frequency Instrumentation Lab at the school. Our approach is radically different and offers a reliable, repeatable solution with the minor inconvenience of wearing something similar to an adhesive bandage.