17 Jun 2002
An LED-based glucose detection system is set to make life less painful for diabetics.
US medical device maker, MicroSense International, has developed a near-ultraviolet LED-based device that detects glucose levels without drawing blood from the patient. Currently on trial in clinics across the US, the company hopes to sell "Pushita" worldwide by 2003.
The system consists of a 20 µm-tipped fiber-optic probe that is attached to a hand-held meter. Coated with an enzyme layer and fluorescent dye, the probe is tailored to measure glucose levels in the interstitial fluid just beneath the skin's outer layers when stimulated with the near-ultraviolet light.
To take measurements, a patient inserts the probe just 100µm into the skin for up to 20 s. According to MicroSense's chief executive William Edelman, 100µm marks the boundary of the tissue zone that contains the glucose marker.
This 100µm depth is also above the nerve endings, which makes the procedure painless. The mechanics of the device control this parameter because an incorrect depth will give an incorrect reading.
Claiming that the device is as accurate as today's invasive techniques Edelman says that MicroSense plans to target Pushita worldwide. "Diabetes is a huge growing market-place and we expect to market our device in 2003," he said.
Before then, researchers at MicroSense plan to perfect the reproducibility of the drawing technique that is used to make the fiber-optic probe. They are also looking to extend Pushita's applications beyond diabetes.
"We have made a very usable platform that will only need incremental changes for different markers," said Edelman. "Other markers [that can be measured] include kidney and heart functions and we can even use the technique to monitor medical dosage limits of clinically depressed patients."
Edelman believes that these applications will be ready to market by 2005.
Rebecca Pool is the news editor of optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.