Sensors for artificial pancreas being developed for diabetics

Tue, 13 Mar 2012
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota in the United States are developing graphene sensors that can be fitted to artificial pancreas to help people with type 1 diabetes.

The small sensing system are intended for implanting under the skin to monitor electrical changes in the body's fluids, which would be read on a separate, external wireless device. The sensors could be as small as a tenth of a cubic millimeter, equal to a fifth of the size of a grain of salt, and it is hoped that many of such devices would be positioned throughout the body to provide accurate, average blood sugar readings.

Although still very much at an early stage of research, scientists at both organisations have promised to deliver a cure - or cure-like treatment - by 2020 as part of their state-funded Decade of Discovery project. The aim is to produce a specialised chip that can hugely improve glucose monitoring and offer a key component for the artificial pancreas currently being developed at the Mayo Clinic.

As researcher Steven Koester commented "It could be kind of a universal bio-sensing platform. We're not exactly sure how to do that. But I think that that's feasible." Once the devices are able to accurately measure blood sugar levels, the team will explore how to develop a protocol that responds to changes in levels, as well as to physical activity and insulin.
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