Researchers from the University of California San Diego are set to launch a pilot clinical trial of a noninvasive, low-cost, single-use tattoo-like wearable that measures the user’s glucose levels. The sensor is flexible and ultra-thin, and adheres to the user’s skin. It is printed with material containing two electrodes that apply a small amount of electrical current which forces glucose molecules that reside below the skin to rise to the surface, allowing it to measure glucose levels present in sweat, which has been shown to correlate with blood glucose levels. The wearable devices could be produced en masse at the price of approximately one dollar each – roughly the same price as a traditional glucose test strip.
“Drawing blood is uncomfortable. No one likes doing it. The beauty of the technology we are developing is that it is a truly noninvasive means to measure glucose,” Patrick Mercier, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSD and co-director of its Center for Wearable Sensors, said in a statement. “The main purpose of our research is to develop new technologies that can monitor glucose without drawing blood and ideally measure it over the course of the day. By giving this real-time information to patients, they can manage their consumption of sugars and injections of insulin much better than with periodic spot measurements.”
The primary aim of the study is to ensure that the sensor’s glucose readings are on par with those collected through established means, but the researchers will also be looking at whether participants find use of the sensor to be acceptable, and how the sensor may eventually be updated to provide more than just a single readout per use.