Glucose Test Tattoo in Development

January 24th, 2011

Type 1 diabetics may soon be free of the need to prick their fingers up to a dozen times a day to perform blood sugar tests, thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The researchers are testing a continuous glucose monitoring "tattoo" in which florescent nanoparticle ink is injected under the skin. The ink is made from carbon nanotubes that reflect light when an infrared light is shone on them.

"Carbon nanotubes will fluoresce in infrared light, and we can decorate the tubes so they fluoresce in response to glucose," explains senior MIT researcher Michael Strano. "When you shine a light on the nano tubes, they'll shine light back at a different wavelength to a diode that could tell how much glucose is around." The infrared glucose monitor diode is expected to be smaller than a watch.

This is a big improvement on even the latest continuous glucose monitoring technology, which involves small sensors implanted in the skin that must be calibrated several times a day, and replaced every few days to a week to avoid infection. Most existing continuous glucose monitors work by injecting an enzyme which breaks down glucose and then measuring a by-product of the breakdown (hydrogen peroxide) to indirectly determine glucose levels. Because the blood sugar testers are implanted into the skin, the body sees the sensors as foreign objects, and frequently forms scar tissue around them. The non-invasive MIT glucose monitor tattoo simply absorbs and re-emits light, which scientists believe to be safer.

Blood glucose control is vital to successful diabetes management. "The most problematic consequences of diabetes result from relatively short excursions of a person's blood sugar outside of the normal physiological range, following meals for example," says Strano, "If we can detect and prevent these excursions, we can go a long way toward reducing the devastating impact of this disease."

The nanoparticle blood glucose test "tattoos" are expected to be self administered weekly with a device resembling an insulin pen. If tests in animals are successful, the resulting next generation continuous glucose monitor tattoo could revolutionize how we manage glucose testing in insulin dependent diabetes.

Diabetes Sniffing Dogs Alert Diabetes Patients to Low Blood Sugar

January 25th, 2011

Diabetes alert dogs, also known as hypoglycemia alert dogs, are trained to detect slight changes in breath and body odors associated with high or low blood sugar, and to alert someone when they detect them. Depending on the odor, a dog's sense of smell is said to be 1000 to 100,000 times greater than a human's.

According to researchers and trainers, a sweet, fruity smell is associated with high blood sugar, while an acidic, almost rusty smell is a sign of low blood sugar. "We found that dogs are incredibly accurate," says Claire Guest from Britain's Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs, "They can warn someone immediately when their blood sugar is dropping to a dangerously low level."

It was anecdotal reports from dog owners that first led to research on man's best friend's ability to warn their diabetic owners of an impending dangerous drop in blood sugar. Sixty-five percent of 212 dog owners with type 1 diabetes who took part in one study in Belfast, Ireland reported that their pets would attempt to get their attention just before a hypoglycemic episode. Some would bark or whine, others would lick and nuzzle them repeatedly, some would jump up on them, and others would stare fixedly and intently at their faces. Almost a third of the animals in the study had reacted to at least 11 events before entering the research project, while another third had reacted more than 11 times.

There are potentially severe consequences for diabetics whose blood sugar levels fall sharply, especially during the night. They can suffer a seizure, slip into a coma or even die without waking up. This is particularly worrisome for parents of diabetic children, many of whom are chronically sleep-deprived from getting up to check on their kids throughout the night. Diabetic alert dogs are trained to sleep with the diabetes patients, periodically sniffing their breath. If they notice a fruity odor, they will attempt to wake the patient and/or alert other family members. Some dogs are even trained to bring the diabetic his or her glucose monitoring kit.

Still, trainers warn that the dogs are not always 100 percent effective, and may miss a scent on occasion, or give a false alarm. They are best considered as another tool in the diabetes patient's blood glucose control tool kit. Type 1 diabetes, previously called juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes, is a form of the disease where the body makes little or no insulin. Without insulin, the body is unable to break down glucose for energy, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise.

Lifelong diabetes medication is necessary for type 1 diabetics, and proper nutrition and exercise are important to maintain good health. Insulin injection has been made easier in recent years with the introduction of the more discreet and convenient insulin pen. Insulin pens are the predominant insulin injection system in most of the world, but for some reason the insulin pen is used less commonly in the United States, although their use is increasing

Numerous Non-Invasive Glucose Monitors under Development

February 9th, 2011

Diabetics are still awaiting a reliable, non-invasive means of blood glucose monitoring - one that doesn't require breaking the skin or confirmation with a traditional monitoring method. The latest continuous glucose monitoring technology involves small sensors implanted in the skin that must be calibrated several times a day, and replaced every few days to a week to avoid infection. Because the blood sugar testers are implanted into the skin, the body sees the sensors as foreign objects, and frequently forms scar tissue around them.

The FDA approved one non-invasive monitor in the 2002 - the GlucoWatch Biographer. Worn on the wrist like a watch, the device used a small electric current to draw fluid through the skin, and a sensor to analyze the fluid's blood glucose levels. But at least half of the diabetics that used the product complained of skin irritation and sores, and the product was discontinued in 2007.

Despite the GlucoWatch disappointment, diabetics should not give up hope of being able to avoid multiple daily finger pricks to keep track of their blood sugar. Numerous non-invasive blood glucose monitors using different technologies are currently in development, including:

1) GlucoTrack - Integrity Application's GlucoTrack employs three different technologies: ultrasonic, conductivity and heat capacity. The device contains a main unit, a transmitter, a receiver and processor, and a sensor-containing ear clip. The main unit can support and store blood sugar readings for up to three users.

2) Symphony - Developed by Echo Therapeutics, Symphony is a biochemical sensor-based transdermal continuous glucose monitoring system with a wireless handheld device that reads the sensor's measurements.

3) Multisensor Glucose Monitoring System - Developed by Solianis Monitoring, this system delivers continuous information on glucose variations using impedance spectroscopy - a technology that uses frequencies to measure the effect of changes in blood glucose levels.

4) Portable blood glucose meter - Grove Instruments is working on miniaturizing a prototype blood glucose monitor which delivers a reading using Optical Bridge technology. The user simply inserts his or her finger into a port to obtain an optically assessed blood sugar test reading in less than 25 seconds.

5) Glucose Monitor Tattoo - Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are testing a continuous glucose monitoring "tattoo" in which florescent nanoparticle ink is injected under the skin. The ink fluoresces in response to glucose when an infrared light is shone on it, telling a small monitor how much it detected.

6) Electronic thumb-pad sensor - Texas' Baylor University researchers are testing an electronic thumb-pad sensor which detects blood glucose by measuring changes when electromagnetic energy waves pass through the skin.

7) I-SugarX - Freedom Meditech is pioneering the I-SugarX, an ophthalmic medical device which monitors changes in the eye to determine glucose levels. The user gazes into a handheld device which shines a light on the eye for less than a second, and then displays a digital blood glucose reading.

8) Near infrared optical spectroscopy - Inlight Solutions is developing devices that use near infrared optical spectroscopy and multi-variate analysis to measure blood glucose levels. The technology employs a light source, an optical detector, and a spectrometer.

9) LighTouch Technology - Uses a glucose test technology that projects a specific color of light onto a patient's finger, and analyses the different colored light that is "re-projected" back from the finger to measure blood glucose levels.

Handling Fruit Can Result in Inaccurate Blood Glucose Test

February 15th, 2011

Japanese researchers are warning diabetics of the risk of "pseudohypergylcemia" when testing blood sugar after eating or handling fruit. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care demonstrated how fruit sugars can stay on the hands even after the fingers are swabbed with alcohol, causing an artificially high blood glucose test reading.

Researchers from the Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine in Tokyo measured the blood sugar levels of ten non-diabetic volunteers, using a standard glucose monitor to test blood samples taken from a fingertip. They then asked the volunteers to peel oranges, grapes and kiwi fruit.

After the volunteers peeled the fruit, the researchers measured their blood glucose levels three more times - before they washed their hands, after they swabbed their hands with alcohol wipes, and after they washed their hands under running water.

Blood glucose levels taken before the volunteers handled the fruit were normal (an average 90 milligrams per deciliter (90 mg/dl). Glucose test results after they handled the fruit and before they cleaned their hands showed high blood sugar levels - around 360 mg/dl after peeling a grape, 180 mg/dl after peeling a kiwi, and 170 mg/dl after peeling an orange.

Even after they swabbed their hands with alcohol (the recommended practice for a diabetic before testing blood sugar), their blood sugar readings were higher than normal. Surprisingly, the volunteers were still receiving inaccurate blood sugar readings after swabbing five times. It was only after washing their hands under running water that their blood glucose readings returned to normal.

Diabetics rely on accurate blood glucose test results to determine how much diabetes medication to take. A diabetic who handled or ate fruit before conducting their blood sugar test could get an incorrect reading and give themselves an unneeded insulin injection, resulting in low blood sugar.

The take away message for diabetics - don't rely on alcohol swabs alone to clean your hands, and always wash them with soap and water before testing blood sugar. In the words of the study authors, "To avoid overestimation of blood glucose using portable monitors, their hands should be washed before monitoring capillary blood glucose, especially after fruit has been handled."

Vets Using Continuous Glucose Monitors to Treat Diabetes in Dogs

May 3rd, 2011

diabetes in dogsThe incidence of diabetes in dogs has risen 200 percent over the last thirty years. The symptoms of diabetes in dogs are similar to those in people, as is the treatment. A dog with type 1 diabetes must have its blood sugar monitored constantly, be exercised regularly, be fed low carbohydrate food, and be given insulin injections.

As in human diabetics, not all dogs with diabetes respond well to treatment. Thankfully, over the last few years, continuous glucose monitoring has revolutionized the ways vets manage diabetes in dogs. The glucose monitor is a small device that is inserted just under the dog's skin. To read more about the use of continuous glucose monitors in dogs with diabetes on Science Daily, >CLICK HERE<.

Software Allows Cars to Monitor Driver's Blood Sugar Levels

May 26th, 2011

The Ford Motor Company is working with Medtronic Inc, a leading manufacturer of blood glucose monitors, to expand Ford's onboard Sync communication system to provide blood sugar monitoring for diabetic drivers. The prototype software monitors blood sugar, displays readouts on the dashboard, and warns the driver if his or her blood glucose is approaching dangerously high or low levels.

The driver can also request blood sugar updates using voice commands. The system can also be used to monitor the blood sugar levels of the vehicle's passenger, such as a diabetic child.

The blood sugar monitoring software uses a Bluetooth connection on the driver's phone to transmit information to the dashboard from a continuous glucose monitor worn on the body. If the driver's blood glucose levels dip to the point where it could cause symptoms like lightheadedness, disorientation, loss of coordination and blurry vision, a robotic voice alerts the driver.

The driver can then take some glucose tablets or diabetes medication, and will be instructed to recheck their blood sugar in 30 minutes. Ultimately, says Medtronic spokesman Brian Henry, the company would like to develop technology that would enable an insulin pump to automatically adjust and administer the correct insulin dosage in response to a low blood sugar reading from the in-car glucose monitoring system.

Ford's voice-activated Sync communication system was developed in partnership with Microsoft Corporation, and has been available since 2008 on most models. Sync provides services like traffic and direction information, voice activated assistance with music and phone calls, and blind spot detection and warnings.

With diabetes at epidemic proportions and the number of American seniors expected to double in less than 50 years, both Ford and GM see in-car health monitoring as an important feature in future automobiles. Ford is also working on other features such as a car seat with sensors that detect electrical impulses from the driver's heart and can warn of a pending heart attack.

"The car is more than just a car," says Ford's chief technology officer Paul Mascarenas, "People spend almost an entire week a year on the road, and that's expected to increase. The car is a private space for conducting personal business. We see health and wellness as a core area."

Ford says the continuous glucose monitoring system is advancing quickly, and hopes to make the feature available to America's approximately 26 million diabetics in three to five years.

Choosing the Best Blood Sugar Meter

July 21st, 2011 diabetes guide Gary Gilles has written an informative guide to finding the best blood sugar meter. The guide covers important features and new developments in blood glucose meters, such as audible meters, meters that can communicate with an insulin pump, and glucose meters that also test blood ketones. >CLICK HERE< to read the blood sugar meter guide on

New Blood Sugar Meter Rewards Children with Diabetes for Testing Regularly

August 2nd, 2011

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, and the incidence of juvenile diabetes is growing. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 215,000 children and youth have diabetes. Most of them are type 1 diabetics, but more children are being diagnosed with type 2. This increase in type 2 diabetes in children is being attributed to poor diet, not enough physical activity, and resulting weight gain.

A new blood sugar meter designed for kids can actually make glucose testing fun. The Bayer Didget Meter has a five second testing time, a large easy to read screen, and a selectable post meal reminder to prompt children to test their blood sugar levels after eating.

Perhaps its best element is the feature that it adds a fun factor for children who glucose test regularly by rewarding them with free Nintendo DS games. To see a picture of and read more about the Bayer Didget Meter on diabetic live, >CLICK HERE.<

Home Urine Test Measures Insulin Production in Diabetics

August 31st, 2011

A simple home urine test has been developed which can measure if patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are producing their own insulin. The urine test replaces multiple blood tests in hospital and can be sent by mail, as it is stable for up to three days at room temperature. Avoiding blood tests will be a particular advantage for children with diabetes.

The urine test measures if patients are still making their own insulin even if they take insulin injections. Researchers have shown that the test can be used to differentiate Type 1 diabetes from Type 2 diabetes and from rare genetic forms of diabetes.

One woman with a genetic form of diabetes whose urine test revealed that she was still making her own insulin was able to stop taking insulin injections after 14 years of insulin treatment. To read more about this promising home urine test on ScienceDaily, >CLICK HERE.<

Do You Need a Diabetes Emergency Survival Kit?

September 1st, 2011

Essential Preparedness Products (EPP) is marketing an emergency survival kit designed specifically for diabetics. The Diabetic med-Ecase is light weight, watertight, airtight, crush resistant, and will float in water.

The survival kit comes complete with glucose tablets, alcohol swabs, a syringe container, an ice pack, a log book to track insulin injections, diabetes medication bottles and a 7-day pill dispenser. Water purification tablets can be purchased as an add-on..

The rugged yellow case has customized compartments for insulin vials, insulin syringes, insulin pens, blood sugar meters, glucagon, and blood and ketone testing stripes. Users fill them with their own personal diabetes medication and supplies.

EPP focuses on emergency preparedness for those with serious medical conditions, creating customized med-Ecases containing necessary medications and supplies in preparation for an emergency, natural disaster, or just travel. Their Diabetic med-Ecase can be ordered online through the EPP website for $69.99.

FreeStyle Navigator Continuous Glucose Monitoring System Discontinued in the US

September 8th, 2011

Abbott Diabetes Care is alerting its diabetic customers that it has been forced to discontinue its FreeStyle Navigator Continuous Glucose Monitoring System in the US. The FreeStyle Navigator System will still be available in seven other national markets.

The discontinuation results from supply interruptions that affected the company's ability to provide American customers with new system kits or replacement components. Abbott stresses that there were no safety issues with the continuous glucose monitoring system.

Abbott plans to help its FreeStyle Navigator customers transition to the three remaining continuous glucose monitoring systems on the market. To read the discontinuation notice on the Abbott Diabetes Care website, and get information on how Abbott plans to help its customers with the transition to other monitoring systems, >Click Here.<

Successful Pilot Study for Implanted Continuous Glucose Monitor

September 13th, 2011

Sensors for Medicine and Science Inc (SMSI) is developing a new approach to glucose monitoring that promises to be a long-awaited improvement over present methods, which typically require several finger prick blood tests a day. This inconvenient and uncomfortable method of collecting blood samples results in many diabetics not testing their blood sugar as often as they should.

The new glucose monitoring method involves a small sensor that is implanted under the skin. The sensor automatically monitors glucose levels every few minutes, and transmits the information wirelessly to a small wrist-watch-like external reader. The sensor will also warn the wearer of an impending episode of low or high blood sugar.

The sensor would be of obvious benefit to insulin dependent diabetics whose diabetes is not well controlled or whose blood sugar levels swing unpredictably. It would also be ideal for children with diabetes.

Sensors for Medicine and Science will be presenting the results of a successful pilot study of the glucose monitor at the next meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. "Based on the promising results obtained," says CEO Tim Goodnow, PhD, "We plan to initiate more clinical trials in the very near future."

The company also hopes to collaborate on artificial pancreas research, with many questions to be answered.