Scientists develop tiny wearable for painless monitoring of all three diabetes vitals, including blood sugar and alcohol levels
Engineers from the University of California San Diego have come up with a wearable "lab on a skin" sensor that can track multiple vitals important for people who live with diabetes at once. Besides the obvious continuous blood sugar monitoring, the device can detect and report alcohol levels, as well as measure lactate, two important diabetes biomarkers whose monitoring can prevent dangerous blood sugar drops while exercising or having drinks with friends on a night out.
According to Farshad Tehrani, a nanoengineering doctoral student at the University of California San Diego and an early co-author of the study:
With our wearable, people can see the interplay between their glucose spikes or dips with their diet, exercise and drinking of alcoholic beverages. That could add to their quality of life as well.
The painless diabetes monitor attaches as a simple skin patch and pushes a number of tiny needles, way smaller than a human hair, barely into the skin’s surface to probe the interstitial cellular fluid instead of drawing blood. The microneedles are covered with enzymes that react with sugar, alcohol, and lactate to produce weak electrical current that is then measured and converted into readable levels by the thin electronics capsule on top of the replaceable patch.
The results are delivered to your phone via the accompanying app, while the electronics case is reusable and rechargeable on a wireless charging pad. The microneedle patch can also be swapped at will and the researchers have achieved excellent accuracy results with it, comparable to traditional blood draw measurements. The integrated non-invasive diabetes monitoring wearable will be commercialized under the name AquilX and its creators are now working on crafting a microneedle patch that can last longer between swaps.