A temporary electronic "tattoo" may one day offer diabetics a bloodless way to check blood sugar levels, researchers say.
Diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and is among the leading causes of death and disability. People with diabetes must test their glucose levels several times a day, using devices with a tiny needle to draw blood from a fingertip.
Constant finger-pricking may drive patients to avoid checking their blood sugar levels, so researchers have been searching for less invasive ways to monitor glucose.
therefore a non-invasive wearable health sensors will be welcomed by many.
UCSD have developed a flexible device that sticks to skin like a rub-on tattoo and sends a mild electrical current over the skin to detect a person's blood sugar levels, without needles.
The scientists tested their device on three women and four men who did not have diabetes. Two or three of the study participants reported feeling a mild tingling in the first 10 seconds of the test, but none reported feeling discomfort.
To see how well the tattoo picked up the spike in blood sugar levels expected after a meal, the researchers measured the participants' blood sugar before and after they consumed a carbohydrate-rich sandwich and soda in the lab.
The new device consists of electrodes made of silver and silver chloride ink, and a blood glucose sensor made of a glucose-sensitive enzyme and another type of ink. The researchers printed both the electrodes and the sensor onto temporary tattoo paper.
To check the blood sugar, the electrodes apply a very mild electrical current to the skin for 10 minutes. This draws the sodium ions in a person's body fluid to migrate toward the electrodes, and these ions bring along the glucose that is also present in the person's fluids. The sensor in the tattoo then measures the strength of the electrical charge produced by the glucose to determine a person's blood sugar levels.
Its still in development as it currently (pardon the pun) does not have a way of indicating blood sugar levels so watch this space.