Diabetics may soon be able to trade their blood glucose meters and insulin injectors for a wearable device.
A team of international scientists -- led by Dae-Hyeong Kim from the Institute for Basic Science in Seoul -- developed a stretchable patch that can monitor blood glucose levels and deliver medication when necessary.
Made from a conductive, flexible, transparent graphene material, the monitoring device is something of a breakthrough in the medical community. According to Popular Science, researchers have, in the past, used the pliable element to create similar patches, but were always stymied by graphene's limiting properties. Kim's team, however, overcame that hurdle by adding gold particles and a surrounding gold mesh, forming an interface for the stable transfer of electrical signals.
So when a person attaches the patch to their skin, it examines sweat for pH and temperature changes that signal high glucose levels. In that case, a layer of coating dissolves to expose microneedles that release metformin to regulate and reduce high blood sugar levels, Popular Science explained, citing a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology. Data is also synced with a mobile device for easy monitoring, all without the hassle of pricking your finger.
Initially tested on mice and two adult men with diabetes, the patch's drug delivery system would need to be scaled up before further human trials can occur.
As MIT Technology Review pointed out, the same group of scientists recently prototyped a patch for Parkinson's patients which would diagnose tremors and deliver pharmaceuticals stored in nanoparticles.