Smart patches manage blood glucose automatically

I’ve written previously about a number of interesting new ‘smart’ bandages that perform a range of monitoring tasks in addition to keeping wounds clean.

For instance, researchers at UC Barkeley have developed a new ‘smart bandage’ that uses electrical currents to detect tissue damage before it is visible to the human eye.

“We set out to create a type of bandage that could detect bedsores as they are forming, before the damage reaches the surface of the skin,” they say.

Researchers in the UK have come up with a similar product that was unveiled recently.  The bandage is capable of turning a different color when it detects the onset of infection, thus providing medics with an early warning of problems afoot.

The product, which was documented in a recently published paper, turns bright green when the gel like material within the dressing detects bacteria.

Insulin management

Operating along similar lines is a new smart patch that aims to help diabetes sufferers manage their insulin levels.  The patch is designed to monitor blood glucose levels and gradually release insulin if levels are too high.

The device was put through its paces in a recent study on mice.  The patch aims to take away the burden of managing insulin levels for people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes by making the process both simple and injection free.

The patch is covered in microneedles loaded with tiny, insulin-carrying pouches that are capable of painlessly injecting the wearer.  Each pouch is designed to break apart swiftly and then release the insulin as glucose levels rise.

In the initial tests, the diabetic mice were able to maintain consistent concentrations of insulin by using the patches.  Indeed, the patches worked even when the mice were injected with glucose to artificially spike their blood sugar levels, with normality restored within two hours.

Suffice to say, the patches are at a very early stage and are thus some way from the market, but it’s an interesting insight into the direction of travel.

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