South Korean scientists have developed a smart patch that can monitor a diabetic's blood sugar levels through their sweat and deliver drugs when needed. Ben Gruber reports.
In the future, diabetics may be able to replace finger prick tests and injections with this non-invasive smart patch to keep their glucose levels in check. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN RESEARCHER AT INSTITUTE FOR BASIC SCIENCE (IBS) AND PROFESSOR AT SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, KIM DAE-HYEONG, SAYING: "The device is a type of patch which enables diabetic patients to monitor blood sugar levels via sweat without taking blood samples and control glucose levels by injecting medication." After analyzing the patient's sweat to sense glucose, the patch's embedded sensors constantly test pH, humidity, and temperature - important factors for accurate blood sugar readings. The graphene-based patch is studded with micro-needles coated with medication that pierce the skin painlessly. When the patch senses above normal glucose levels a tiny heating element switches on which dissolves the medication coating the microneedles and releases it into the body. The prototype worked well in mice trials. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN RESEARCHER AT INSTITUTE FOR BASIC SCIENCE (IBS) AND PROFESSOR AT SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, KIM DAE-HYEONG, SAYING: "Diabetic patients can easily use our device because it does not cause any pain or stress them out. So they can monitor and manage blood glucose levels more often to prevent increasing it. Therefore, our device can greatly contribute to helping patients avoid complications of the disease." Researchers want to lower the cost of production, while figuring out how to delivery enough medication to effectively treat humans, both major hurdles towards commercialization. The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in March.