The report describing the paper-based device, which also could be adapted for the diagnosis and monitoring of other conditions and the environment, appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.
According to a statement, diabetes test strips seem inexpensive but the cost can be prohibitive in areas where people must choose between treatment and day-to-day necessities.
In addition, current handheld diabetes monitoring devices measure glucose levels in blood, which requires a pin-prick to a finger, something that could deter patients from taking the measurements.
To address these challenges, the researchers from VU University Amsterdam, Harvard University and the universities of Maryland and São Paulo built a newtype of glucose monitor that detects glucose levels in urine and is made from inexpensive materials, such as paper.
The device is said to consist of three electrodes, a buffer solution, a piece of paper (or nitrocellulose) and a plastic dish.
The sample is injected onto the paper with a slightly modified medical syringe and the solution moves along the paper by gravity and capillary action.
An enzyme — glucose oxidase — is already on the paper and it reacts with glucose in the sample to produce hydrogen peroxide, which is detected by the electrodes.
The system can reportedly be built quickly, is inexpensive and produces results similar to those from a more expensive, commercially available, clinical instrument.
The authors state that the device could be used not only in a clinical lab, but it could also be further developed for applications as diverse as analysing food quality and environmental monitoring.