Laser may replace pin pricks for people with diabetes
Scientists at Princeton University have developed a laser technique to measure people’s blood sugar, which they said could replace the current needle-pricking method used by people with diabetess.
The laser works by passing through the skin cells of a person’s palm and is then partially absorbed by the person’s body’s sugar molecules. By measuring the level of absorption, the user is able to measure the level of blood sugar.
The laser technique, described in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, is referred to as a quantum cascade laser. Unlike other types of lasers, it can be set to various frequencies. For this study, researchers produced a laser in the mid-infrared frequency, which allowed them to penetrate skin cells without causing damage.
To test the technique, the researchers recruited three healthy volunteers. They used the laser to measure the volunteers’ blood sugar levels before and after eating 20 jellybeans. The researchers also used the finger-prick technique, and they repeated the measurements over several weeks.
The results of the study showed that the laser measurement readings were less accurate than those of the finger-prick test; however, the laser readings were still about 84 percent accurate, which is within the clinical requirement for glucose monitor accuracy.
Researchers said that further studies and improvements to the laser technique may have implications for diabetics as well as for other medical sensing and monitoring applications.