Researchers develop a painless glucose monitor for diabetics

Its tiny microneedles make it less invasive than what’s currently available.

For those with diabetes, monitoring blood glucose is an essential part of disease management, but unfortunately, the methods for tracking glucose each have their own downsides. Finger-pricking can be a hassle and quite painful, while continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) are often expensive, invasive and less reliable. But researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden have developed a microneedle-based CGMS that's more accurate, faster and cost-effective than what's currently available and is also pain-free.

The device they created is a patch outfitted with tiny microneedles that are thinner than a human hair and 50-times smaller than those on commercially available products. Because of this, when the patch is applied, it's practically painless and far less invasive than available CGMS products. Further, the smaller needles mean measurements can be taken within the dermis, where glucose measures are more accurate, as opposed to the hypodermis, which is where available CGMS devices typically target. The researchers' design also minimizes the distance between the sensing electrode and the dermis, allowing for more rapid readings, and utilizes a passive extraction of fluid, negating the need for more involved extraction processes that can contribute to higher costs.

While the device isn't yet available for use, the research team is working on completing the system in order to advance it to a clinical trial. Their work was recently published in Biomedical Microdevices.