Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a sensor to detect and quantify glucose levels in sweat for at-home monitoring of patients with diabetes, according to a study published in Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.
Unlike traditional at-home glucose sensors, which require a drop of blood from a finger prick, the newly developed sweat sensor can detect glucose in 1 microliter of sweat.
“Fitness trackers that monitor heart rate and step count are very popular, but wearable, non-invasive biosensors would be extremely beneficial for managing diseases,” bio-engineering professor Shalini Prasad said in prepared remarks. “In our sensor mechanism, we use the same chemistry and enzymatic reaction that are incorporated into blood glucose testing strips. But in our design, we had to account for the low volume of ambient sweat that would be present in areas such as under a watch or wrist device, or under a patch that lies next to the skin.”
The team said they designed the sensor to control for variables like volume of sweat production and the variety of compounds present in sweat that could interfere with glucose measurement.
The textile-based sensor includes a modified surface that ensures a tiny amount of sweat will generate a strong signal, the researchers reported.
“Our modifications allow this material to entrap glucose oxidase molecules, which effectively amplifies the signal,” Prasad said. “We did it this way because we are thinking about possible commercialization – to make these, we need a fabrication process that is not complex.”
The prototype is an inch-long flexible rod that can provide a real-time readout of a user’s glucose levels. “At this point, we are thinking of this sensor as something you use for a day and toss out, and we believe it could easily be incorporated into existing consumer electronics platforms,” Prasad said. “We’re very excited about the potential for licensing this technology.”