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Glucose 'Tattoo' Could Track Blood Sugar Levels for Diabetics
Date:6/4/2010

Device includes 'carbon nanotubes' injected under skin, say researchers

FRIDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- In the future, people with diabetes may be able to monitor their blood sugar levels using a glucose "tattoo."

This new type of continuous glucose monitor relies on fluorescent nanoparticle ink injected under the skin to detect blood sugar levels with a watch-sized or smaller monitor worn over the skin, according to the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who are developing the new technology.

The glucose "tattoo" ink would be made from carbon nanotubes that can reflect infrared light back through the skin to the monitor, and this new device has the potential to free people with diabetes from having to do numerous finger pricks each day or to change a continuous glucose monitor device every three to seven days to keep track of their blood sugar levels.

"Carbon nanotubes will fluoresce in infrared light, and we can decorate the tubes so they fluoresce in response to glucose," explained senior researcher Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey associate professor of chemical engineering at MIT.

"When you shine a light on the nanotubes, they'll shine light back at a different wavelength to a watch-type diode that could tell how much glucose is around," said Strano.

He said that the actual monitor that's worn over the skin would probably be watch-sized or smaller, depending on the size of the batteries. "If technology keeps shrinking at the current rate, it will probably be smaller than a watch," he said.

Currently, most people with type 1 diabetes have to prick their fingers up to a dozen times a day to assess their blood sugar levels. The newest technology -- continuous glucose monitoring -- involves placing a small glucose sensor that's implanted into the skin, and must be replaced every three to seven days. These devices also must be calibrated dai
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