A new sensor allows people with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels without taking blood samples.
Sergio Pistoi, all rights reserved
New Scientist vol 161 issue 2173 – 13 February 1999, page 12
A SENSOR that allows people with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels without taking blood samples every few hours could be on the market before the end of the year. The sensor might one day be combined with an insulin pump to form an artificial pancreas that would eliminate the need for constant blood tests and insulin injections.
Diabetics suffer from a lack of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that stimulates cells to take up glucose from the blood. To correct this imbalance they need to monitor their blood sugar levels to know how much insulin to inject. The most common way of doing this is to apply a pinprick of blood to a test strip, but many find this inconvenient.
The new sensor, developed by MiniMed in California, measures glucose levels in the fluids in the subcutaneous tissue just under the skin. It consists of a tiny electrode attached to a pager-sized monitor that can be worn on the belt or inside clothing.
Under normal circumstances, the device is as effective as a blood test. But blood sampling is still required about once a day to calibrate the sensor.