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Diabetes Awareness-New Technology on The Horizon

Updated on May 20, 2012

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Type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes, is when the body fails to produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is when the cells resist and fail to use insulin properly.

Gestational Diabetes is when pregnant women, who have never had diabetes before, have high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

Understanding A Disease

Understanding a disease is not as easy as it may seem if you are not directly effected with it in someway. I do not have diabetes, but a person very close to me does. I have made it a personal mission to understand as best I can and be supportive. Reading information is not nearly the same thing as being diagnosed withType 1 Diabetes, but being involved and learning new things can never hurt when it comes to people you love.

What Should My Blood Sugar Levels Be?

 For most people, on average....

On waking up for breakfast - 80 to 120

Before meals - 80 to120

2 hours after meals - 160 or less

at bedtime - 100-140

Blood Testing-A Pain That Pains

Testing blood glucose levels, or blood sugar, is a major issue when it comes to Diabetics. Levels must be monitored to make sure it doesn't drop below or go above average. One of the main ways this is done is with meters.

Meters have progressed slowly over the years but still keep the same design; they test the blood to check the levels of glucose. Usually the normal way of doing this is by pricking a fingertip to get an adequate amount of blood for testing. The ways of doing this have progressed and now some meters that are on the market can test on your arm in a less painful area. Requiring less blood, therefore less pain.

Other advancements that have been include the items used for testing. The original device used to prick the skin, the lancet, was given an upgrade in 1998 when the FDA approved the first in-home Laser called the Lasette. It's a portable, battery-operated laser that pricks the skin as easily and accurately as lancets. It is only available through prescription and your doctor is required to give you information on how to use it. It's sold by Cell Robotics of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

New Methods of Monitoring

New methods are being developed everyday to help ease the pain of endless finger-pricking and monitoring. Two of these methods that are being developed are more of a permanent solution to this problem. Not expected to be out on the market for a while, but are still in the developmental stages are Tattoos and tiny beads implanted under the skin.

Glucose Tattoos

Currently under development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this new system is being tested. A special ink that contains carbon nanotubes, or nanoparticles, is injected under the skin. This ink reflects infrared light back through the skin to a monitor that is worn externally. Blood sugar is then monitored on the device, which is about the size of a wristwatch.

"Depending on the wave length reflected back from the carbon nanotubes, the person gets a reading on the blood sugar," explains Spyros Mezitis, MD, Ph.D., attending endocrinologist and clinical investigator at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "The technology must go through FDA approval before it is available."

The tattoo would be about the size of a dime, and would be much more convenient to use then a glucose monitor which must be changed every 4 to 7 days. The Glucose tattoo is still in its infant stages and going through extensive testing to see about hopefully launching this idea sometime in the future.

"Some areas of the skin may be more accurate for taking a reading," he says. "And how often would the ink need to be injected still needs to be determined. But the big advantage is that it would free the diabetic from blood sugar testing."

Implanted Beads

In Hong Kong, Japanese researchers are working on a blood glucose monitoring system that requires less painful ways of monitoring your BGL.

"Laced with diboronic acid and certain hydrocarbons, the beads glow when they pick up glucose floating in the blood, the scientists reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences "

The fluorescent microbeads are injectible, and minimally invasive. Testing is being done on implanting these beads in mice currently. This kind of technology along with the the Glucose Tattoos may not be be in the near future, but will definitely be something to keep on the look out for in the years to come.

"Because the fluorescent microbeads do not require external links or power sources to provide a readout, they could be used to fabricate minimally invasive glucose sensors for people who need to continuously monitor their blood glucose levels," they wrote.

Raman Spectroscope Glucose Meter
Raman Spectroscope Glucose Meter

Other Technology In The Works

MIT is working on a Glucose Meter that checks Blood glucose levels with infrared light. The Raman Spectroscope Glucose Meter reads by shining near-infrared light on a persons arm or finger and using the ensuing vibrations put off by the chemical bonds in various molecules in the skin to measure the amount of glucose present. So far this method works but only to a degree. The light only penetrates about a millimeter into the skin meaning glucose readings are actually measuring the amount of sugar in the interstitial fluid surrounding skin cells instead of the levels in the bloodstream.

  The Raman Spectroscope still needs work, but it is a huge step forward. They are on their way to solving a problem that has persisted for many years with little progress. MIT plans to get a clinical trial started on healthy patients soon if things go well.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
OneTouch OneTouch MiniPricking can be a pain in the....fingerWhat Meter is right for you?AgaMatrix Jazz Meter allows you to monitor your blood glucose with your iPhone.
OneTouch Mini
OneTouch Mini
Pricking can be a pain in the....finger
Pricking can be a pain in the....finger
What Meter is right for you?
What Meter is right for you?
AgaMatrix Jazz Meter allows you to monitor your blood glucose with your iPhone.
AgaMatrix Jazz Meter allows you to monitor your blood glucose with your iPhone.

What's Out There Now...

Finding new ways to help monitor Diabetes is a main concern while no known cure is available for the time being. While new technology is being looked into, the cost for peace of mind is financially a burden to most. Insurance companies won't usually accept to insure new people with pre-existing conditions such as Diabetes. This means sky-rocketing prices on meters, test strips, and medicine all coming out of pocket for a diabetic.

Finding a good meter that fits with your life is important; making sure that meter also fits in your price range is as well. Testing is an important part of everyday life for a diabetic. Hopefully in the future it will become a less painful, and less frequent process.


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    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 5 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      haha.. that was totally an oversight on my part. Japanese researchers.. not Hong Kong is in Japan... I wrote this early in the morning when I was very tired lol. Thank you for pointing that out. I corrected it.. I actually even spelled Hong Kong incorrectly by accident. I am sorry for the confusion and if I may have upset anyone. Thank you for stopping by to read.

    • dr stephen chan profile image

      dr stephen chan 5 years ago from U.S.A

      Hi there,

      I liked your hub, I just have one question? I see you started off the paragraph titled "Implanted Beads", by saying: "In Hong Kong, Japan".

      I am wondering if you mean to say that research is going on in both Hong Kong as well as Japan, or if the researchers in Hong Kong are Japanese? Surely you aren't saying Hong Kong is in Japan.. because that is what it looks like?

    • profile image

      Jimmy Sharp 6 years ago

      Awesome article indeed. We have been waiting for this info

      Good information once again! Thanks:)

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      Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful information specially the last part :) I care for such info much. I was seeking this certain info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

      hello there and thank you for your info I have definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 6 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      I appreciated you stopping by to read. Hopefully a cure can be found then constant testing will no longer be needed...type II really is the lesser of two evils but still just as serious... I hope that the process can be sped up to come out with better technology very soon. No one should have to suffer through illness everyday. Good luck to you and your father. Thank you for reading.

    • RichERich1175 profile image

      RichERich1175 6 years ago

      Thank you for your enlightening article on diabetes. My father has type II diabetes and this info is very informative. Much appreciated.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 7 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      that would be neat to have the option of choosing a design. =)

    • Jed Fisher profile image

      Jed Fisher 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Glucose tattoo, that would be cool. Maybe the logo could be a skull with crossed syringes, and the word "Insulin" on top and "Dependant" on the bottom.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 7 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      thank you so much for your kind words. I try to keep up with whats out there as much as I can. Never can have too much information, especially for Diabetes. I hope something more permanent can be done and a cure found. Until then, anything that is done to ease the pain dealt with on a daily basis is a huge leap forward.

    • profile image

      Atkyjason 7 years ago from Bensalem Pa

      Excellent hub. I used to work for Abbott Diabetes care which manufactures several different blood glucose meters. I worked as a customer service rep and would've definitely reccomended your hub to my customers. You've done such a great job of explaining the basics of diabetes and blood testing. Keep up the great writing.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 7 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking time to read. =)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Incredible new information and a refreshingly written Hub. Rated up and several others.

    • SognoPiccolo profile image

      SognoPiccolo 7 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio

      Thank you very much, and thank you for stopping by to read! =)

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      A very informative hub.