Bakthan Singaram, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSC, has been working on the glucose sensor for the past four years, along with visiting scientist Rich Wessling and several graduate students. The team's latest results were published in December in the international journal Angewandte Chemie.
"We are very excited about the prospects for our optical glucose sensor to be used in a viable device for continuous glucose monitoring," Singaram said.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to enter the body's cells and be stored or used for energy. Many diabetics require insulin injections, and all must carefully monitor and manage their blood glucose levels. For millions of diabetics, this means drawing blood several times a day, usually from finger pricks. But glucose levels can fluctuate widely throughout the day, making it difficult to know when to do the blood tests for optimal control of glucose levels.
A device that can provide continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels has been eagerly sought by many research groups for more than a decade, with limited success. Singaram started working to develop a glucose sensor at the suggestion of Paul Levin, founder of Palco Labs, a Santa Cruz company that makes products for diabetics. Palco funded the first two years of research on the optical glucose sensor, but was eventually unable to continue its support.