Another project underway to help people with diabetes measure glucose, has the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) https://www.nibib.nih.gov with collaborators at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, developing a non-invasive device that could potentially be effective at measuring blood glucose levels as the standard finger prick is today.
The majority of diabetics currently monitor the amount of glucose in their blood by pricking themselves multiple times a day using a portable glucometer.
Peter So, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT and his team, are studying a technique called “Raman Spectroscopy”. This specific technique measures the level of blood sugar by shining a laser onto a patient’s skin which is then able to detect different components in the skin capable of analyzing the amount of glucose.
In general, spectroscopy is a technique that measures different aspects of matter by observing how it reacts with light. When researchers calibrate the system to track the change of glucose, they are able to detect the specific molecular bonds of glucose which creates a molecular finger print capable of accurately measuring blood sugar levels.
Jeon Woong Kang, PhD, Research Scientist at MIT’s Laser Biomedical Research Center, a NIBIB Supported Biomedical Technology Resource Center https://brc.mit.edu, and his team paired the method of Raman Spectroscopy with computer models to optically analyze the blood just under the skin of twenty healthy volunteers.
The researchers then developed a brace to hold a fiber optic laser in place to monitor the same area of skin over the course of three hours but at the same time, the volunteers underwent Oral Glucose Tolerance Testing (OGTT) where patients ingest a drink high in sugar and then the blood is tested with intravenous tests and finger prick tests over a period of time.
The researchers found that OGTT is still the gold standard and the most accurate way to test blood sugar levels and the trial showed that it is still more accurate than the new laser monitoring.
However, the intravenous testing is invasive and requires medical personnel, and therefore is not really a viable option of continuous blood sugar monitoring for the vast majority of diabetes.