A new implantable device for testing and monitoring blood could improve the way people with diabetes monitor their condition.
A team of Swiss scientists have developed a tiny, wireless blood-testing device that sits beneath the skin and provides instant results.
The prototype device is just 14mm long and 2mm wide and is designed to be inserted into the interstitial tissue just beneath the skin of the abdomen, legs or arms, where it could remain for months before needing to be removed or replaced.
Once inserted, it can simultaneously check for up to five different substances in the blood, including glucose – a feature which its developers say makes it stand out from other, similar blood-testing devices currently being developed.
The results are then wirelessly sent to a mobile phone using radiowaves and Bluetooth technology.
According to Professor Giovanni de Micheli and lead scientist Sandro Carrara, the device will be particularly useful for monitoring chronic conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol, and could also be used to monitor the impact of drug treatments such as chemotherapy .
“It will allow direct and continuous monitoring based on a patient’s individual tolerance, and not on age and weight charts or weekly blood tests,” they explain.
Initial tests in the lab and on animals suggest the device can reliably detect glucose, cholesterol and other common substances doctors look for.
The scientists say the next step is to start testing the device on intensive care patients (those who require repeated blood tests). If successful, they believe it could be approved and made available to patients within four years.
Checking blood glucose levels is used to help diagnose diabetes and monitor the health of people who have already been diagnosed with the disease.

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