‘Due to the terrifying pin-prick, I only test if I feel bad’, is one of the most common reactions of people with diabetes. Many patients do not track their blood glucose as regular as they should.
At this moment a diabetes-patient needs to do a lot of things to manage their disease, like: using needles to test blood glucose, monitoring foot health, managing medication and regularly visiting hospitals. A lot more than many other diseases.
This might belong to the past soon, as UCSD (University of California San Diego) developed a low-cost tattoo-wearable that measures the user’s glucose levels. While drawing blood is most uncomfortable, this noninvasive technology is a welcome solution. Understanding how a patient’s sugar levels develop over the course of time, gives valuable information in order to guide medication regimes and therefore improve quality of life and possibly even save it. Due to this real-time information, people are able to manage their consumption of sugar and insulin-injection better.
How to use?
Like a kid’s temporary tattoo, you need to apply it on your arm, dab it with water and remove the back paper. The tattoo is printed with material containing 2 electrodes that apply a small amount of electrical current. This electrical current forces the glucose molecules to rise to the surface, in order to measure the blood sugar level. This is completely painless; you hardly feel anything. At this moment, the outcomes can only be read in the research-center, but in the future people can do this their selves, wherever they are.
The clinical trial is enrolling 50 patients (all adults, aged 18-75) suffering from type 1 and 2 diabetes or diabetes due to other courses. At this current stage the tattoo-sensor provides just one readout, but eventually the developers hope to have a continuous sensor that monitors glucose for the whole day.