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Image credit: Hui Won Yun/Seoul National University

Graphene-based patch can help monitor blood sugar levels

It can also deliver medication using tiny needles.

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Hui Won Yun/Seoul National University

This see-through patch made of graphene and studded with gold isn't just a fashion accessory or temporary tattoo. It has the capability to monitor your blood sugar levels and deliver diabetes medication. The prototype, designed by Seoul National University assistant professor Dae-Hyeong Kim and a team of researchers, has sensors that can detect your temperature and the pH/chemical composition of your sweat. It then beams the data it collects to an accompanying smartphone app. If the system infers that you need medicine based on the state of your sweat, the app computes for the amount of medication (metformin for type II diabetes) you need. The patch's microneedle array then injects the right amount into your body.

While it could save someone's life in the future, the current version is far from being a product people can rely on. At its current form, the microneedle array activates when the bracelet detects that the temperature's 105 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes it ill-suited for use in the tropics and other generally warm locations. Also, it's incapable of delivering enough metformin that adults need. The team still has to figure out how to fix that without having to create an enormous version filled to the brim with teensy needles.

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