To control diabetes, people with the disease may need to prick their fingers several times a day and test their blood sugar levels. But now, mIT researchers may have developed an less invasive method of using infrared light to get glucose readings from liquids below the surface of the skin.
The new system is based on a technique called Raman Spectroscopy, which involves irradiating near-infrared light on the skin. The idea is that light will scatter different molecules in different ways, revealing the chemical composition of the tissue. Now, after decades of research, the MIT team has developed a way to measure glucose in the tissue fluid around tissue cells.
In the new method, near-infrared light hits the skin at a 60-degree angle, while receiving fiber is flat on the skin. This means that light reflects molecules in the tissue and hits the fibers, producing a stronger glucosaraman signal, while filtering the reflected signal from the skin’s surface. When the team tested the technology in live pigs, they found that after 10 to 15 minutes of calibration, the technology could produce accurate glucose readings for up to an hour. The accuracy of these signals is supported by comparing these signals with blood samples taken from the same pig.
The researchers say this is a major improvement on their past work, which has indirectly calculated glucose levels by comparing Raman signals with blood reference measurements. This also requires regular calibration, as patients can be removed from walking around, eating or drinking.
“This is the first time that we have directly observed glucose signals from tissues in a transdermal manner without the need for a lot of advanced computation and signal extraction,” said Peter So, senior author of the study. “
Currently, the device is about the size of a desktop printer, and the team says it should be less invasive to insert your finger into this type of machine a few times a day, rather than pierce it with a needle.
“You may have a device at home or in the office, you may place it on your finger from time to time, or you may have a probe on your skin,” Says So. That’s what we’re thinking about in the short term. “In the long run, researchers hope to apply the technology to smaller wearables.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.