Ultrasound technology could enhance treatment of diabetes

Mon, 03 Jun 2013
Ultrasound technology could be used to treat diabetes and other diseases in the near future, according to researchers in the US.

Scientists at the University at Buffalo are developing a miniaturised version of the same technology used by the navy for sonar and doctors for sonograms that can be applied inside the human body to treat diseases such as diabetes and heart failure in real time.

They explain that a network of wireless body sensors that use ultrasounds could be used to wirelessly share information between medical devices implanted in or worn by diabetic/heart failure patients.

"This is a biomedical advancement that could revolutionize the way we care for people suffering from the major diseases of our time," said Tommaso Melodia, UB associate professor of electrical engineering.

According to Melodia, medical devices, such as a pacemaker and an instrument that measures blood oxygen levels, may communicate more effectively via ultrasounds compared to radio waves as roughly two-thirds of the body consists of water.

For people with diabetes, wireless blood glucose sensors could be connected to implantable insulin pumps. The sensors would monitor the blood and, via the pumps, control the dosage of insulin as needed in real time.

"Think of how the Navy uses sonar to communicate between submarines and detect enemy ships," Melodia explained. "It's the same principle, only applied to ultrasonic sensors that are small enough to work together inside the human body and more effectively help treat diseases .

"We are really just scratching the surface of what's possible. There are countless potential applications."

The scientist, whose research efforts are being supported by a five-year National Science Foundation Career grant, said the next step is to do more modeling and conduct experiments with ultrasonic, wireless body sensor networks.
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