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Development of Implantable Glucose Sensor for Diabetes Management

September 2, 2019

For a diabetic, monitoring their blood-sugar
levels and keeping them under control is absolutely critical. for their overall health. So if you don’t keep your blood-sugar level in check, that could eventually lead to death or cardiovascular
disease, eye problems – people have to have leg amputations. So what a diabetic has to
do right now is do finger-prick tests with something called a glucose meter. This finger-prick
test is just this one timepoint, snapshot of what their blood sugar is. What we’re trying
to do is something very different. It’s going to enable potentially a diabetic to have continuous
glucose monitoring. The sensor that we’re trying to develop, we envision that it will
be placed in the skin, just below the wrist, and this device will be complemented with
something that looks like a watch. The watch device is a pretty standard LED with a photodetector,
and that LED shines light in and then it gets light back from the implanted device, and
that changes color, based on the glucose concentration. So the idea there is you can measure it as
often as you want, and so by monitoring more often you can regulate your sugar levels better.
This should have an immediate impact on short- and long-term complications and the amount
of dollars spend to treat diabetics. Developing this implanted glucose biosensor is actually
a team effort. So it’s really two parts to the technology. One is the biocompatibility
membrane our biomaterials folks like Dr. Grunlan are working on, and then the sensor chemistry
– and that’s the fluorescence and the optics, and that’ my area. We’re using light in terms
of monitoring the behavior of proteins in response to glucose. And so just the idea
of putting two different fields together is just great. This research is supported by
the National Institutes of Health, and this funding has enabled us to prove that this
concept actually works. Right now we think that the self-cleaning membrane has other
far-reaching potential as well. So whether it’s a clotting or the foreign-body reaction,
a lot of medical devices fail due to this inability to keep their surface clean, so
we think that the membrane could actually have far-reaching implications for medical
devices in general. And if you think about children who have to manage this disease,
think about how much freedom we’re giving those kids. And so to give them that freedom
is something that we’re really driven to do.

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