Scientists at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering and researchers at GlySens, Inc., have revealed a device that marks an important breakthrough in monitoring glucose levels in diabetics.
David Gough, bioengineering professor at UCSD and lead author of the study reported the team's findings in this month's issue of Science Translational Medicine.
The small, circular device would be implanted close to the skin and would collect data and transmit it wirelessly to a receiver outside of the body. There are two sensors, the first detects oxygen levels and the second detects oxygen and glucose together. The device would then continuously monitor the wearer's glucose levels, calculating the results from both sensors and transmits them via the antenna contained within the sensor.
The team hopes that one day diabetics would be able to receive these readings on their cell phones.
To date, the device has been tested on a pig successfully for over a year, and for more than 10 months on another. Clinical trials on humans are expected to begin shortly.
The device can run for over a year continuously without having to be changed. It can remain unaffected by surrounding tissue for over 500 days. The scientists envision the sensor being implanted as outpatient surgery with just a local anesthetic. It would be implanted close to the skin on the torso to allow for easy changing.
The monitor implanted into the pigs measured 1.5 inches wide and an inch thick but it is thought that the human sensor could be made even more compact.
This could be potential good news for the more than 23 million Americans with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to help them monitor glucose level changes and to make appropriate changes in either medicine or diet accordingly. It could also mean the end of painful finger pricking throughout the day.
“Four finger sticks per day to measure glucose levels is the current standard of care, but blood glucose can go on significant excursions between sticks,” said Gough. “We are moving toward something that will be automatic and quite unobtrusive – others wouldn't even know if someone is using a glucose sensor. Our goal is to get people off the finger stick cycle.”