Blood glucose monitor could benefit diabetic patients

A new blood-glucose monitor being developed in Wales will send a text alert to emergency personnel when a patient is in danger of hypoglycaemia attack.

Scientists from Swansea University’s Centre for Nanohealth and e-health Industries Innovation Centre are in consortium with a number of Welsh technology companies to develop the device.

The overall aim is to develop a low-cost, non-invasive, ambulatory and continuous monitoring system using novel sensors and a mobile network.

Dr Vincent Teng, a nanoelectronics expert from Swansea University’s College of Engineering, is leading the project and said that the blood-glucose management will significantly improve the quality of life of diabetic patients and their families.

Dr Teng told The Engineer that the device can be worn on the arm; the size of the device will be about 20mm by 20mm and the weight will be dependent on the type of battery used.

According to the university, the device will transmit readings from the sensor to mobile phones and subsequently to the NHS and the clinical team responsible for the patient’s care. It will also provide an emergency alert to next of kin.

Dr Teng said that the type of signal sent to the phone remains confidential but he did reveal that the device would have a range of about 10m.

In use, the device – which Teng said can be fitted by the user – will provide continuous blood-glucose measurement using a nanowire biosensor, unlike the commonly used ‘finger-stick’ glucose meter that requires patients to carry out up to 10 tests a day.

Dr Teng added that for constant monitoring, the device will need to be worn continuously and that the sensor chip can be replaced after about a week.

It will also differ from the majority of products on the market, as the process is non-invasive and pain free. The blood sample is collected via an array of micro-needles — measuring less than 1mm from the dermal layer of the skin — which has fewer nerve endings.

The prototype is to be developed over the next 30 months and will have a direct and rapid route to market through the industry consortium.

The £470,000 research project is backed by the Welsh government’s EU-funded Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme.

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