Painless wearable device can measure blood sugar, alcohol and muscle fatigue at the SAME time

A new wearable device that attaches to the arm can measure blood sugar and muscle fatigue at the gym and alcohol levels at the bar.

Created in California, the prototype can continuously monitor three health statistics (glucose, alcohol and lactate levels) either separately or simultaneously in real time.

About the size of three poker chips stacked together, it is painlessly applied to the skin via a Velcro-like patch of microscopic needles.

These needles take readings of fluid under the skin, then send the data wirelessly to a custom smartphone app.

The researchers hope to commercialize the device, which could provide a unique solution for diabetes patients in everyday life.

The device can be worn on the upper arm while the user goes about their day, whether they are at the gym or the pub.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The device’s patch of 25 microscopic needles, or microneedles, is about one-fifth the width of a human hair.

Placing them on a person’s arm causes no pain, the researchers say, since the microneedles barely penetrate the surface of the skin.

Different enzymes at the microneedle tips react with lactate, glucose and alcohol found in the interstitial fluid – the fluid that surrounds the cells under the skin.

These reactions generate tiny electrical currents, which are analyzed by electronic sensors and communicated wirelessly to the smartphone app.

Engineers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) describe their device in a paper published today in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

“This is like a whole lab on the skin,” said study author Joseph Wang, a professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego.

“It is capable of continuously measuring multiple biomarkers at the same time, allowing users to monitor their health and wellness while going about their daily activities.”

Most commercial health monitors, such as continuous glucose monitors for diabetes patients, only measure one signal.

The problem with that is that it leaves out information that could help people with diabetes manage their disease more effectively.

For example, monitoring alcohol levels is also helpful because drinking alcohol can lower glucose levels.

Knowing both levels can help people with diabetes prevent their blood sugar from dropping too low after having a drink.

Combining information on lactate, a biomarker of muscle fatigue, such as during exercise, is also useful because physical activity influences the body’s ability to regulate glucose.

The device works with a custom smartphone app, created by the research team, for data capture and visualization.

The device works with a custom smartphone app, created by the research team, for data capture and visualization.

About the size of three poker chips stacked together, the new device is painlessly applied to the skin via a Velcro-like patch of microscopic needles.  Here, the disposable microneedle patch is separated from its reusable electronic box.

About the size of three poker chips stacked together, the new device is painlessly applied to the skin via a Velcro-like patch of microscopic needles. Here, the disposable microneedle patch is separated from its reusable electronic box.

“With our wearable device, people can see the interaction between their glucose spikes or crashes with their diet, exercise, and alcohol consumption,” said co-author Farshad Tehrani at UCSD.

“That could also increase your quality of life.”

The device’s patch of 25 microscopic needles, or microneedles, is about one-fifth the width of a human hair.

Placing them on a person’s arm causes no pain, the researchers say, since the microneedles barely penetrate the surface of the skin.

Different enzymes at the microneedle tips react with lactate, glucose and alcohol found in the interstitial fluid – the fluid that surrounds the cells under the skin.

These reactions generate tiny electrical currents, which are analyzed by electronic sensors and communicated wirelessly to the smartphone app.

In tests, the wearable device was tested on five volunteers, who wore the device on their upper arms while exercising, eating, and drinking a glass of wine.

The device's microneedles barely penetrate the dermis, the inner layer of the two main skin layers.

The device’s microneedles barely penetrate the dermis, the inner layer of the two main skin layers.

The device can be recharged on a wireless charging pad out of the box, like the ones used for Apple iPhones.

The device can be recharged on a wireless charging pad out of the box, like the ones used for Apple iPhones.

It was used to continuously monitor volunteers’ glucose levels simultaneously with their alcohol or lactate levels.

Glucose, alcohol, and lactate measurements taken by the device closely matched measurements taken by a commercial blood glucose monitor and breathalyzer, as well as blood lactate measurements made in the laboratory.

According to the team, each microneedle patch is disposable, so customers could buy in bulk and stock up as needed when the device ships.

The wearable device plugs into a reusable electronics box that houses the battery, electronic sensors, wireless transmitter, and other electronics.

This allows the device to recharge on any wireless charging pad used for smart phones and watches.

The researchers have co-founded a new company called AquilX to further develop the technology for commercialization.

The next steps include testing and improving how long the microneedle patch can last before being replaced.

The company is also excited about adding more sensors to the device to monitor patients’ medication levels and other signs of health.

SCIENTISTS CREATE SMART BRACELET THAT RECORD YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

A cuff that can measure your blood pressure whether you’re standing, sitting, lying down, or even asleep could help in the fight against hypertension.

The Aktiia home blood pressure monitoring kit, created by a company of the same name, comes with a cuff, bracelet and associated app, which can constantly track blood pressure without a bulky device.

The Swiss-based firm started working on blood pressure monitoring using optical sensors 15 years ago and was set to bring it to market in spring 2021.

It makes use of signal processing to take actual measurements against a baseline, rather than using artificial intelligence to “predict” blood pressure levels.

Aktiia says its goal is to “improve cardiovascular health by giving patients and physicians a deeper understanding of their blood pressure patterns.”

Read more: The smart bracelet that tracks your blood pressure

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