With this new method, patients with diabetes will avoid the pain of current blood tests. In addition, this technology could be used to measure at least 130 indicators of the organism.
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Currently, people living with diabetes must prick their finger with a lancet once or several times a day to measure blood glucose , but this is about to change. Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia developed the first saliva test to measure sugar levels in diabetic patients , which could be available to the general public in 2023.
Research leader Paul Dastoor detailed in a statement that “the world’s first painless diabetes test” uses a natural enzyme called glucose oxidase, as well as a powerful sensor that detects glucose in saliva.
The reaction produced by the interaction of the organic compound and saliva generates a weak electrical current that is perceptible to the sensor. When measured, the captured signals accurately reveal glucose levels. Users will be able to store the data and share it through a smartphone app.
It should be noted that glucose concentrations in saliva are 100 times lower than those found in blood. Hence the complexity of creating a device capable of perceiving this particular marker.
To make matters worse, the researchers say their technology could be used to measure at least 130 other indicators of the body . For example, tumor, hormonal and allergen markers, “which means that it will be widely applicable to detect a variety of substances that identify a number of diseases,” they note. In fact, scientists are already collaborating with Harvard University to develop a non-invasive test for Covid-19 .
Another interesting fact is that these powerful and delicate biosensors are about the size of a stick of gum. For now they are produced on a small scale at the university with the help of an old wine label printer, modified to produce electronic or ‘functional’ devices.
The project already has state financing of about 4.6 million dollars, part of which will be used for the construction of the first factory of the device, which will begin in the coming months. It is estimated that the first commercial batch of saliva tests for diabetes will be ready in the year 2023 , something that could benefit about 460 million diabetic patients in the world.