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Micro advances in how we monitor and control diabetes

2/4/15    Micro advances is combating the uncomfortable needle pricking used to control diabetes. Diabetes affects over 29 million people in the United States and that number keeps increasing at a rate of 1.7 million new diagnoses per year. People who have diabetes have to monitor their glucose levels multiple times a day. This involves pricking the skin with a needle to release a drop of blood to be tested on a glucose monitor. Then an insulin shot has to be administered. That results in numerous needles pricking the skin each and every day.

Hope is on the way! There are many studies being done on how to decrease the use of needles to regulate this disease. Scientists at the University of CA have developed and tested a tiny stick-on temporary tattoo that painlessly extracts glucose and monitors its levels in the body. It works by gently drawing glucose from between cells to the surface of the skin where it can be measured by sensors. Each tattoo-like device lasts about a day and has been tested on humans. Most test patients didn’t notice it was there and a few people mentioned a a tingling sensation that lasted a couple seconds.

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This device would make pricking the skin to draw blood obsolete and as an added bonus it’s very inexpensive, costing just a few cents a piece.
It is currently in a proof-of-concept stage but is hoped to replace finger pricking and make diabetics monitoring process less painful. At this stage the tattoo can not provide a numerical readout so the team is working on developing a bluetooth instrument that would send this info to a doctor or another device.
Another interesting development in the diabetes field is how the insulin is being administered into the body. Instead of injecting it with a needle, researchers at Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science are using shockwaves to administer the insulin. They have developed a microcapsule drug delivery mechanism using micro-shockwaves. These shockwaves are produced externally using a handheld generator placed near the microcapsule. The release profile of the medicine upon initiation of shockwaves can be sped up or slowed down by changing the pH in the microcapsule. The device does not touch the body to trigger the release of the drug. Even though a needle does still need to be used to place the microcapsule in the subcutaneous layer of the skin, the use of multiple needles per day would diminish substantially.

Todays cutting edge medical advances are fascinating to learn about. We have worked on research projects in the insulin field and are excited to be a part of this journey!