Measuring glucose without needle pricks
Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems
The daily pricking of the finger may soon become a thing of the past, thanks to a diagnostic system with built-in Fraunhofer technology . The underlying concept is a biosensor that is located on the patient’s body. It is also able to measure glucose levels continuously using tissue fluids other than blood, such as in sweat or tears. The patient could dispense with the constant needle pricks. In the past, such bioelectric sensors were too big, too imprecise and consumed too much power. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg have recently achieved a major breakthrough: They have developed a biosensor in nano-form that circumvents these hurdles.
Fraunhofer researchers have attached the entire diagnostic system to the chip, measuring just 0.5 x 2.0 millimeters. The biosensor transmits the data via a wireless interface, for example to a mobile receiver. Thus, the patient can keep a steady eye on his or her glucose level. The minimal size is not the only thing that provides a substantial advantage over previous biosensors of this type. In addition, the sensor consumes substantially less power. Earlier systems required about 500 microamperes at five volts; now, it is less than 100 microamperes. That increases the durability of the system – allowing the patient to wear the sensor for weeks, or even months.
The glucose sensor was engineered by the researchers at NovioSense BV, a Dutch medical technology firm. Since it can be manufactured so cost-effectively, it is best suited for mass production. These non-invasive measuring devices for monitoring blood glucose levels may become the basis for a particularly useful further development in the future: The biochip could control an implanted miniature pump that, based on the glucose value measured, indicates the precise amount of insulin to administer. That way, diabetes patients could say goodbye to incessant needle-pricks forever.
Contact: Martin van Ackeren, Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS