Google Contact Lens Just One Novel Way to Test Glucose
Testing blood glucose levels is painful and inconvenient but a necessity for individuals who have diabetes. Google hopes to change two out of three of these factors in the near future if its soft contact lens prototype that measures glucose levels in tears eventually makes its way through FDA approval.
Google is not the only game in town that is working on ways to test glucose that do not involve finger pricks. Since it is one of the newest approaches, however, let’s look at it first.
The soft contact lens has an antenna, controller, capacitor, and sensor that work together to provide sugar readings every second. As fluid reaches the sensor through a pinhole in the lens, the other components process and send the information to a handheld monitor.
The glucose monitoring is designed to be wire-free, and the data transmitted will be secure so it cannot be altered in any way and thus provide a false reading that could result in a patient taking the wrong amount of insulin. Other challenges regarding the lenses still face the Google team, so do not expect to see the new lenses on the market soon.
Other novel ways to test glucose
Several other innovative ways to test glucose levels are in some stage of development. One of them also involves testing tears, although you would not have to depend on contact lenses to do the job.
Instead, a University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, team has been working on a sensor that can detect sugar levels in tears. So far, however, the device has been tested on animals only.
Other devices in the pipeline include:
- A sensor that can read acetone levels in your breath is being developed. Acetone causes a person’s breath to smell sweet if their blood glucose levels are elevated. Clinical trials are scheduled for 2014 to test this device in people.
- A four-in-one sensor that can detect glucose in blood, tears saliva, and urine. This device, which is being developed at Purdue, utilizes nanotechnology.
- Another sensor makes use of a person’s dead skin cells to get samples of fluids beneath the skin
- GlucoTrack, a device that takes readings from a clip that attaches to the ear lobe. The instrument uses ultrasonic, thermal, and electromagnetic technologies to measure sugar levels in the blood. It is expected to be available in a limited number of countries beginning in 2014.
It is clear scientists are developing innovative and noninvasive ways for people with diabetes to check and monitor their glucose levels. The Google contact lens device is just novel approach to this necessary procedure.
Claussen JC et al. Nanostructuring platinum nanoparticles on multilayered graphene petal nanosheets for electrochemical biosensing. Advanced Functional Materials 2012 Aug 21; 22(16): 3317
Washington Post 1/17/14
Yan Q et al. Measurement of tear glucose levels with amperometric glucose biosensor/capillary tube configuration. Analytical Chemistry 2011; 83(21): 8341-46