Portable Diabetes Device in the Works

Novel device can determine if a patient has pre-, type 1, or type 2 diabetes.

Investigators at the University of Twente are currently creating a portable device that will be able to accurately detect type 1 and type 2 diabetes in its early stages.

The aim of the research is to develop a prototype of the device that can be used by patients with either type of diabetes, according to a press release from the university.

More than 420 million individuals have been diagnosed with diabetes, and hundreds of millions more are currently unaware they have the condition. Through early diagnosis, patients are able to effectively prevent serious health complications, such as organ damage.

To facilitate an earlier diagnosis than is currently possible, the researchers are creating the portable device to test a small amount of blood to determine if a patient has diabetes, according to the press release. This device would allow primary care physicians to diagnose patients as early as the pre-diabetes stage, and can also distinguish between the different types of the condition.

Inside of the novel device is a chip that detects biomarkers that indicate whether diabetes in present. The internal chip also has an optical sensor that will scan a droplet of blood for 3 specific biomarkers.

To create this device, the researchers first need to create sensors that are sensitive enough to search for biomarkers in a small drop of blood, but small enough for a portable device, according to the university. The second challenge these investigators face is to fabricate a device that is not only portable, but is also powerful and easy to use.

One of the researchers is an expert in creating integrated optical sensors, such as the one that will be used in the device, and is involved with multiple other studies to create sensors that detect biomarkers.

This research is supported by many different organizations, including companies that will be involved with the entire production process, according to the university. The STW Technology Foundation has even granted the researchers €235,000 to support their efforts in creating the portable diabetes detection system.

While the device is certainly an advancement in technology, it will also change the diabetes landscape, as well, according to the release. If patients are aware of their condition in the pre-diabetes stage, they may be able to implement lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet or increased physical activity, to slow disease progression.

Patients who are diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes earlier, will be able to initiate drug therapy promptly, and work to control their blood glucose levels through alternative measures.

Controlling diabetes early can lead to reduced healthcare costs from avoiding hospitalizations, and adverse cardiac events that are characteristic of uncontrolled disease.