New ways to measure glucose levels without drawing blood!

A recent study, affiliated with UNIST, reported a new way to measure blood glucose levels (BGLs) without drawing blood. This is a revolutionary, non-invasive technology for testing blood glucose levels, using an electromagnetic (EM) wave-based glucose sensor that is inserted under the skin. Their findings have attracted a lot of attention, as they eliminate the need for diabetic patients to constantly prick their fingers with a glucose meter.

This achievement was led by Professor Franklin Bean and his research team in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UNIST.

In this study, the research team proposed an electromagnetic sensor that can be implanted under the skin and is able to track subtle changes in the dielectric permittivity due to changes in BGLs. The proposed sensor, which is about a fifth of a cotton swab, could measure changes in glucose concentrations in the interstitial fluid (ISF), the fluid that fills the spaces between cells.

“The current work is an effort to achieve an implantable electromagnetic sensor, which could be an alternative to an enzyme-based or optical glucose sensor,” the research team noted. “The proposed implantable sensor not only overcomes the disadvantages of continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), such as short lifetime, but also enhances the accuracy of blood glucose prediction.”

Diabetes can be diagnosed if fasting blood glucose levels are 126 mg/dL or higher. A normal fasting glucose test result is less than 100 mg/dL. One of the main goals of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels within a specified target range. More than 400 million people worldwide live with diabetes and still prick their fingers several times a day to check their blood glucose levels.

Various alternative methods to the finger prick method have been extensively studied for blood glucose detection, such as an enzyme-based glucose sensor or an optical sensor. However, they still have issues in terms of longevity, portability, and accuracy.

In this study, the research team provided semi-permanent and continuous blood sugar management at low maintenance costs without the pain caused by blood collection, enabling patients to enjoy a good life through proper treatment and diabetes management. This is expected to increase CGMS usage, which is currently only 5%.

The research team also performed both an intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT) and an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) using an implanted sensor for pigs and beagles in a controlled setting. The results of the initial proof-of-concept in the in vivo experiment showed a promising correlation between BGL and the sensor’s frequency response, according to the research team.

“Our proposed sensor and system are in fact at an early stage of development,” the research team noted. “Nonetheless, our in vivo proof-of-concept results show a promising correlation between BGL and the sensor’s frequency response. Indeed, the sensor shows the ability to track BGL orientation.”

“For the actual sensor implantation process, we must consider biocompatible encapsulation and foreign body interactions (FBR) for long-term applications. In addition, an improved sensor interface system is being developed,” the research team added.

Their findings were published in the October 2022 issue of Scientific reports. This study was conducted in collaboration with SB Solutions Inc., a UNIST-based faculty startup founded by Professor Franklin Bean (Department of Electrical Engineering, UNIST). Founded in 2017, the company is a developer of a glucose metering system designed to help manage blood glucose in real time. The company’s system uses non-invasive electromagnetic wave-based glucose measurement technology and related systems in the marketing process.

Story source:

Materials Introduction of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST). Original by JooHyeon Heo. Note: Content can be modified by style and length.

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