Diabetes is a debilitating disorder that affects 380 million around the world. One of its many complications is that it requires constant monitoring.
To do so, patients use a portable glycosometer that measures blood glucose levels. Patients usually prick their fingertips to get a blood sample, but with the help of scientists, all that is about to change.
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A novel biosensor
Injecting yourself with a needle (regardless of how tiny it is) is not the most comfortable process. And in addition to being painful, it also carries the risk of infection. However, Brazilian and American scientists have developed a novel glucose oxidase biosensor that can safely and painlessly monitor blood glucose levels through a person’s tears.
The scientists have devised a way to put the biosensor on patients' glasses, and when the user produces tears, they come into contact with glucose oxidase.
This contact alters the flow of electrons and produces a signal that is picked up by a device installed in the arm of the glasses. The device then communicates the results in real-time with a computer.
"The concentrations of various metabolites in tears reflect concurrent blood levels, making them an attractive medium for non-invasive monitoring of physiological parameters," said to SciDev.Net Laís Canniatti Brazaca, a physician, researcher at the São Carlos Chemistry Institute, and one of the authors of the study.
The same device has multiple purposes. It can also be used to detect levels of vitamins and alcohol in the blood or even pinpoint neglected and chronic degenerative diseases.
Not market-ready, yet
Even though this is exciting news for all suffering from diabetes, it should be noted that these devices are not yet market-ready. Cleverton Pirich, a biochemist at Paraná Federal University, Brazil, told The Next Web that although the benefits of biosensors are many, there's plenty of work that needs to be done until they can become truly effective, risk-free, and produced on a large scale.
“Increasing public and private investment in innovative research projects in this area would be the main way to accelerate all these processes,” he added.