See the future … This portable patch uses sweat to monitor blood glucose levels and can automatically deliver microneedle medications.
People with diabetes prick their fingers several times a day to control their blood glucose levels and are given daily with insulin injections. This monitoring is crucial, since the increase in blood sugar levels can, over time, increase a diabetic patient's risk of developing long-term complications from the disease. But this puncture and injection can also be painful and tedious, making it difficult for people to follow their doctor's instructions.
In recent years, researchers have been working on more convenient and less intrusive ways for people to control their diabetes. Now, a group of international researchers led by Dae-Hyeong Kim of the Institute of Basic Sciences in Seoul, South Korea, have created a double patch that can control blood glucose levels and administer drugs that reduce high blood sugar levels. when they occur His work was published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
How does it work?
The technology uses graphene, an extremely strong and flexible material made of carbon atoms and often used in portable devices. In the past, scientists have used graphene to create similar patches, but certain properties of graphene have made it difficult to detect changes in sugar levels. To improve their skills, researchers in this study added gold particles and a gold mesh surrounding graphene.
When a diabetic person puts on the patch, the device captures the sweat of the person's skin. The sensors inside the patch detect changes in pH and temperature of the sweat that indicate a high level of glucose. Once a high level is detected, the heaters in the patch begin to dissolve a coating layer, exposing the microneedles that then release a drug called metformin that can regulate and reduce high blood sugar levels. (If you're curious, an injection of microneedle would feel like it was nothing or just a slight tingling). Blood sugar readings are also transmitted wirelessly to a mobile device for the person to read and monitor.
Researchers hope that this combination of medication monitoring and administration will help diabetics better regulate blood glucose fluctuations throughout the day.
The researchers tested the patch in diabetic mice and in two adult men with diabetes. In the future, before they can test the patch on more people, researchers will have to expand the drug delivery part of the device to inject human-sized doses.
In an article of news and opinions that accompanied the article, Richard Guy, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Bath, said that this patch has brought the field closer to the "coveted prize" of a non-invasive feedback system that combines monitoring and distribution. However, he also acknowledged that more research is needed to answer key questions, even if the device can withstand the increased sweat induced by strenuous exercise, if the device can do this type of monitoring for 24 full hours and, most importantly, if the drug delivery component can be extended and be able to administer metformin "without an uncomfortably large number of microneedles and / or an unacceptably large patch".
If researchers can answer these key questions, this could mean a significant improvement in the health of diabetic patients.
Korean researchers develop nanopatch to control diabetes
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