Brazilian and US scientists have developed a goggle-based biosensor that measures blood glucose through tears, providing a less invasive test for diabetics.
Glucose levels should be monitored frequently in diabetics, a disease that affects 62 million people in the Americas and 380 million worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes has increased alarmingly in recent decades – with the fastest increase in low- and middle-income countries – and could reach 580 million of people from here 2035.
Many sufferers use a portable glycosometer to measure blood glucose by pricking their fingertips to get a blood sample. This process, which can be repeated several times a day, can be painful and pose a risk of infection.
The Brazilian biosensor can identify an enzyme called glucose oxidase – widely used to detect free glucose in body fluids – in tears, eliminating the need to sting by hand. It can also measure blood sugar, vitamins and alcohol.
Biosensors are able to measure biological or chemical reactions and generate a signal proportional to the concentration of a particular substance. They are increasingly designed and used to accelerate laboratory test results, monitor health problems, diagnose and prevent disease, even in some developing countries such as Brazil.
Researchers from the São Carlos Institute of Physics at the University of São Paulo, as well as scientists from the Department of Nanotechnology at the University of California at San Diego, have immobilized the enzyme on an electrode coupled to a circuit with constant flow of electrons, and then installed the device. on the nasal pad of the pair of glasses. The user must produce tears by exposing his eyes to an eye-sensitive substance that stimulates the lacrimal gland.
When tears come in contact with glucose oxidase, it oxidizes the flow of electrons, producing a signal that is recorded and processed by the device installed in the glasses arm, which sends the results in real time to a computer or smartphone. .
Laís Canniatti Brazaca, a physician and researcher at the São Carlos Institute of Chemistry and one of the authors of the study published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, told SciDev.Net: “The concentrations of various metabolites in tears reflect mean concentrations of noninvasive monitoring of physiological parameters. ”
In addition to being painless, the biosensor could “reduce the risk of infections in people who frequently use glycosometers,” added Brazaca.
She added that the device could also measure levels of vitamins and alcohol in the blood by simply “changing the coupled electrode attached to the nose pads of the glasses”.
Using the same approach, a team of researchers from the Institute of Chemistry at São Paulo State University created a biosensor capable of detecting and quantifying biomarker proteins for the clinical diagnosis of neglected diseases and degenerative diseases. chronic, such as certain types of cancer.
Paulo Roberto Bueno, Materials Engineer at the Institute of Chemistry of the State University of São Paulo, said: “The idea is to conduct the examination with a simple drop of blood on the device. ”
This simple approach could improve the diagnosis of diseases by health professionals or by patients themselves at home, aided by artificial intelligence software.
Researchers expect to commercialize the new device within three years. In the case of the biosensor based glasses, there is no prediction for the device to come on the market.
Cleverton Pirich, a biochemist at the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil, said that while the benefits of biosensors to improve the quality of life and human health have long been known, the road is still long before these devices are manufactured and marketed on a large scale. in countries such as Brazil.
However, he argues that these devices have significant potential for the diagnosis and prevention of neglected diseases in developing countries, or even genetic disorders that can be diagnosed soon after or even before birth.
“Increasing public and private investment in innovative research projects in this area would be the main way to accelerate all these processes,” he added.
This article, written by Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, was produced by the Latin America, Caribbean and Caribbean Bureau of SciDev.Net and edited for clarity. The study published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics was funded by FAPESP, a donor of SciDev.Net. Read the original article here.