Blood testing, mosquito style

Apr 24, 2009

A skin patch could one day provide a less-invasive alternative for diabetics who need to take regular samples of their own blood to keep glucose levels in check. The common method of drawing blood from fingertips and using glucose testing strips and metres can be painful, inconvenient and time-consuming.

Electrical engineers at the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary have patented a device called the Electronic Mosquito. The patch is approximately the size of a deck of cards and contains four micro-needles that "bite" sequentially at programmed intervals. The needles are electronically controlled to penetrate the skin deep enough to draw blood from a capillary, but not deep enough to hit a nerve. This means patients would experience little or no pain. The patch could be worn anywhere on the body where it could obtain accurate readings of capillary blood.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Biomedical engineers at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering have patented a device to quickly and painlessly test blood glucose levels. The Electronic Mosquito is based on the biting mechanism of a mosquito. Credit: University of Calgary

A sensor in each cell of the e-Mosquito measures sugar levels in the blood. This data can then be sent wirelessly to a remote device such a computer or a monitoring instrument worn on the wrist. The system could even be connected to an alarm to alert patients or doctors when enter the danger zone.

"This is a dramatic improvement over manual poking, particularly for children and elderly patients," says Martin Mintchev, director of the Low Frequency Instrumentation Lab at the Schulich School of Engineering. "Our approach is radically different and offers a reliable, repeatable solution with the minor inconvenience of wearing something similar to an adhesive bandage."

Mintchev spent three years designing the e-Mosquito along with Karan Kaler, director of the Schulich School's Bio-Micro Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) Laboratory. Their next step is to make the components of the e-Mosquito smaller to fit more needles on the patch. Currently, there are four needles, so the patch would need to be changed at least once a day. Adding more needles would allow patients to wear the patch for longer periods of time or test their more frequently, even while they're asleep.

Eventually, Mintchev and Kaler hope to integrate a pump system so insulin injections can also become autonomous based on data from the e-Mosquito, thus converting the device into an external artificial pancreas.

"It's important to find an industry partner for this project," says David Reese, project manager with University Technologies International, the university's technology transfer, commercialization and incubation centre that works with U of C researchers to commercialize their technologies. "Industry has the resources and expertise to speed up the process of product development and bring this technology to market for the benefit of patients."

Diabetes has been described as a global epidemic. Approximately 246 million people around the world are affected by the disease. More than two million Canadians have diabetes, a number that is increasing because of the aging population and rising obesity rates, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Source: University of Calgary (news : web)

Explore further: Infant cooing, babbling linked to hearing ability

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ceramic hybrid needles take the sting out of shots

Jan 07, 2008

New polymerization technology may one day take the pain out of injections and blood draws. A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina and Laser Zentrum Hannover have recently used two-photon polymerization ...

Microneedles Could Replace Syringe

Mar 10, 2008

The common needle phobia and painful injections could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a revolutionary new drug-delivery technique developed by a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology, US. The ...

Sensor in artery measures blood pressure

Jan 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- High blood pressure can be a trial of patience for doctors and for sufferers, whose blood pressure often has to be monitored over a long time until it can be regulated. This will now be made ...

Recommended for you

Infant cooing, babbling linked to hearing ability

3 hours ago

Infants' vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount ...

Developing 'tissue chip' to screen neurological toxins

4 hours ago

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research is creating a faster, more affordable way to screen for neural toxins, helping flag chemicals that ...

Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

8 hours ago

An international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation that causes aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce normal amounts of blood cells. Studying a family in which ...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma

10 hours ago

The majority of drugs used to treat asthma today are the same ones that were used 50 years ago. New drugs are urgently needed to treat this chronic respiratory disease, which causes nearly 25 million people ...

User comments : 0