Researchers have developed a handheld breathalyzer that allows diabetics to painlessly check their blood glucose levels. Instead of using the traditional finger-stick testing, patients blow into a breathalyzer to detect the acetone levels in their breath, which have been linked to high blood glucose. With this information, patients can determine if they need to take insulin.
The device was developed by Western New England University professors Dr Ronny Priefer and Dr Michael Rust, who presented their research at the 2016 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in November.
“We believe this technology will be a great improvement in the lives of people with diabetes,” said Priefer. “It is a noninvasive medical device for detecting and monitoring diabetes by connecting one’s acetone levels with their blood glucose. We believe it is a necessary alternative to the finger-stick approach for people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.” Necessary because as much as 66% of people with diabetes currently avoid doing the finger-stick testing due to the invasive and painful nature that patients must endure between 4-12 times a day,” according to Priefer.
A lack of blood glucose monitoring can result in serious diabetes-related complications. For example, if a person’s blood glucose is too low, complications can include seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death. If a person’s blood glucose is too high, complications can include infections, cardiovascular disease, and nerve and kidney damage.
Priefer’s goal is to create a device that allows patients to track their blood glucose levels, by the end of 2017. The new device is currently the size of a small book, but the team is working to make the device even smaller.