ATHENS, Ohio -- Scientists have edged one step closer to the development of a glucose measuring device that uses light instead of a blood sample. Such a diagnostic tool would offer millions of diabetics a painless option for keeping their disease in check.
People with diabetes must diligently monitor the amount of glucose in their blood, which requires patients to apply needles to fingertips as often as a half-dozen times a day. The routine is painful and inconvenient, two factors doctors say often deter healthy maintenance of the disease.
But a new study by chemists at Ohio University and the University of Iowa suggests that a technique that passes infrared light through the skin can accurately measure blood glucose, research that one day could eliminate the need for a blood sample test.
"Most people feel that if you have a test that is noninvasive, diabetics would use it more often and probably do a better job of managing their disease," says Gary Small, a professor of chemistry at Ohio University who co-authored the new study with Mark Arnold, professor of chemistry at the University of Iowa. The research appears in the latest issue of the journal Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics.
In a small clinical trial involving five people with Type I, or insulin-dependent, diabetes, researchers used light to measure blood glucose up to six times a day for 39 days. Researchers shot a beam of infrared light through the tongue, which has a good blood supply.
Glucose and other molecules in the blood absorb specific frequencies of light. As the researchers couldn't see this happening in the tissue, they analyzed the light emerging from the tongue. By measuring the degree to which each light frequency was absorbed by the tongue, the researchers were able to determine how much glucose was in the blood.
Although the apparatus designed for these studies is expensive and impractical for home use, researchers envision a light-based glucose monitor
Contact: Kelli Whitlock