More than 400 million diabetics are forced to come to endocrinologists every day to test a drop of blood taken from a patient's finger, with a needle piercing it. For them, there is great news – soon the painful and unpleasant procedure can be reduced to a minimum.
Scientists from the University of Waterloo (Canada, Ontario) have created a device based on artificial intelligence, which does not need blood fluid samples. The patient's critical glucose level is detected using a miniature radar, without a painful finger prick.
Our non-invasive remote glucose monitoring method does not cause any discomfort. It eliminates the need for implanted sensors, patches, devices that use chemical reactions or transfer fluid through the skin, said graduate student Eldin Omer, who led the project.
How the innovative blood glucose meter works
The palm-sized device is equipped with a touch panel that you need to touch with your fingertip, and a miniature radar will send a pulse of radio waves through the skin to the blood vessels, after which the reflected signal is sent back to the sensor. A specially designed program analyzes the data, and within a few seconds tells the user whether the level of sugar in his blood has increased or remained the same.
This blood glucose meter does not give absolute readings (this will require blood fluid), it simply compares the current blood sugar level with the original one stored in its memory, and displays the data on the display.
Patients still can't avoid visiting a nurse in the lab. But the owners of the new gadget will need to donate blood for analysis not daily, but only once a month. Updated baseline glucose readings will be entered into the individual medical record via the attending physician's computer. The latest data can be downloaded during a doctor's visit or later downloaded via the Internet.
Advantages and prospects
The new technology may not seem like much of an achievement, but for people with diabetes, it's a remarkable innovation. They will finally get rid of the painful and inconvenient procedures of daily blood sugar control.
The main advantage of our development: no pricks, said George Shaker, a Professor of engineering at the University of Waterloo. This is extremely important for many patients, especially the elderly with very sensitive skin, as well as children who often need to take several tests during the day.
One of the authors of the study, Professor Safieddin Safavi-Naeini, is studying other functions that this technology could perform.
Since many of the ingredients in blood fluid have different electromagnetic properties, our technique can also be extended to other types of blood tests and medical diagnostics, he said.
The development team has so far produced a working prototype of the device. A commercial model of the device may be available on the market as early as 2021. It will cost less than 500$.
Canadian scientists, together with colleagues from the Sorbonne University of Paris, are already working to further improve this development, aiming to make the remote glucose meter even more compact and lighter. They are sure that in a couple of years the pocket gadget will turn into a wristband that provides constant monitoring of the state of glucose in the human body.