Measuring blood sugar with light

October 25, 2013

One of the keys to healthful living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is monitoring blood glucose (sugar) levels to ensure they remain at stable levels. People can easily and reliably do this at home using electronic devices that read sugar levels in a tiny drop of blood.

Now a team of German researchers has devised a novel, non-invasive way to make monitoring easier. Using infrared laser light applied on top of the , they measure sugar levels in the fluid in and under skin cells to read . They describe their method in the current edition of Review of Scientific Instruments, which is produced by AIP Publishing.

"This opens the fantastic possibility that diabetes patients might be able to measure their level without pricking and without test strips," said lead researcher, Werner Mäntele, Ph.D. of Frankfurt's Institut für Biophysik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität.

"Our goal is to devise an easier, more reliable and in the long-run, cheaper way to monitor ," he added.

The "Sweet Melody" of Glucose

Their new optical approach uses photoacoustic spectroscopy (PAS) to measure glucose by its mid-infrared absorption of light. A painless pulse of laser light applied externally to the skin is absorbed by glucose molecules and creates a measurable sound signature that Dr. Mäntele's team refers to as "the sweet melody of glucose." This signal enables researchers to detect glucose in skin fluids in seconds.

The data showing the skin cell glucose levels at one-hundredth of a millimeter beneath the skin is related to blood , Mäntele said, but previous attempts to use PAS in this manner have been hampered by distortion related to changes of air pressure, temperature and humidity caused by the contact with living skin.

To overcome these constraints, the team devised a design innovation of an open, windowless cell architecture. While it is still experimental and would have to be tested and approved by regulatory agencies before becoming commercially available, the team continues to refine it.

In a close collaboration with an industry partner (Elte Sensoric: http://www.elte-sensoric-gmbh.de/), they expect to have a small shoebox-sized device ready in three years, followed by a portable glucometer some years later.

Explore further: Tear drops may rival blood drops in testing blood sugar in diabetes

More information: The article, "Windowless ultrasound photoacoustic cell for in vivo mid-IR spectroscopy of human epidermis: Low interference by changes of air pressure, temperature, and humidity caused by skin contact opens the possibility for a non-invasive monitoring of glucose in the interstitial fluid," is authored by Miguel A. Pleitez, Tobias Lieblein, Alexander Bauer, Otto Hertzberg, Hermann von Lilienfeld-Toal, and Werner Mäntele. It appears in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments. dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4816723

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

Antibody-making bacteria promise drug development

August 31, 2015

Monoclonal antibodies, proteins that bind to and destroy foreign invaders in our bodies, routinely are used as therapeutic agents to fight a wide range of maladies including breast cancer, leukemia, asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gjbloom
not rated yet Oct 25, 2013
Too laggy to be of real use in blood sugar management.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.