A sensor placed under the skin is to be used to monitor the glucose levels of diabetes patients in a study by Southampton clinicians.
Diabetes experts based at Southampton General Hospital will fit the tiny devices to participants’ stomachs and use them in conjunction with watch-like armbands, which will check a patient’s physical activity.
The trial will be the first of its kind in the UK, studying how much of an impact exercise has on blood glucose levels while also taking diet and insulin intake into account.
Thirty volunteers aged between 18 and 75 will be supplied with a glucose sensor and armband.
The glucose sensor consists of a tiny electrode, which is inserted under the skin and can take nearly 300 readings a day. This connects to a transmitter that is attached to the skin with an adhesive patch.
Weighing less than a quarter of an ounce, the waterproof electrode and transmitter can be worn by patients for up to two weeks at a time, with the inserted sensor replaced every three days.
Meanwhile, the physical activity armband will be worn for two blocks of two weeks during the 12-month study to record continuous data, which can then be downloaded electronically.
Volunteers will wear the bands on their right upper arm and can sleep with them in place.
Prof Byrne, head of endocrinology and metabolism at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘At the moment, it is uncertain how day-to-day variation in physical activity influences blood glucose in people with type 1 diabetes. But thanks to the introduction of sophisticated, user-friendly monitoring devices, such as the two we are trialling, we will gauge a better understanding of the link between physical activity and glucose control in diabetes.’
He added: ‘People with diabetes need help to understand the powerful influence of physical activity and exercise on glucose control and how it can play an essential part in avoiding the complications diabetes can bring.’
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no insulin at all and is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is also sometimes known as juvenile diabetes, or early onset diabetes, because it usually develops before the age of 40 and often in the teenage years.