People with diabetes could soon have a non-invasive, effective way to measure their sugar levels during exercise.
They can do that thanks to a new sensor patch made by the researchers at Binghamton University at the State University of New York.
Nowadays the most widespread methods for sugar self-testing include monitoring sugar levels in the blood.
According to Seokheun Choi, assistant professor of the Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science, the conventional measurements are not adequate to prevent hypoglycemia during exercise.
One reason for that is the fact that the underlying process depends on inconvenient and invasive blood sampling. That leads to the possibility of skin irritation and sample contamination with sweat having different proteins and electrolytes.
The method itself demands the patients have many accessories during the physical activity. This includes large glucometer, lancets, and alcohol swabs.
Also, the technique needs sufficient electrical energy and a sophisticated electrochemical sensing technique. This is why it is difficult to integrate this technique in a portable and compact fashion fully.
Choi together with other researchers made and demonstrated a disposable, wearable, self-powered patch that allows non-invasive monitoring of sugar in human sweat.
Choi explains that this patch sticks directly to the skin just like a Band-Aid, then it wicks sweat into a reservoir, and here the chemical energy converts into electrical energy, and monitors sugar, without the need for sophisticated readout instruments and external power.
Sweat-based sugar sensing is good when it comes to the management of hypoglycemia induced by exercise. It is good because there are measurements immediately after or during exercise. At this time there is enough sweat for a suitable sample.
This potentially eases shortcomings of the conventional sweat sensors, which might be obstructed by the difficulty to collect a sufficient amount of swear for analysis, the long time necessary for collecting sample, and sample evaporation.
According to researchers, this holds promise for the effective management of diabetes. Also, there is a possibility for a fully integrated system with a readout towards continuous sugar monitoring.