South Korean scientists have developed a sensor that analyses sweat on the skin to calculate blood sugar levels.
Sweat patches are becoming a popular research development within diabetes, and this latest sensor requires just one millionth of a litre (one microlitre) of sweat for a test to be performed.
In studies on mice the sensor was found to be accurate, and preliminary studies have shown the sensor can automatically inject diabetes medication when hooked up to a patch of tiny needles.
Researchers at the Seoul National University said: “The system provides a novel closed-loop solution for the non-invasive sweat-based management of diabetes mellitus. The current system provides important new advances toward the painless and stress-free care for diabetes.”
The patch comprises three sensors which monitor blood sugar levels, four that analyse how acidic sweat is, and a humidity sensor to assess the quantity of sweat.
This is all encased in an absorbent layer that enables the sweat to soak through, with information passed onto a portable computer which completes the analysis, and calculates blood sugar levels.
The study team explained that “careful multilayer patch design and miniaturisation of the sensors increases the efficiency of the sweat collection and sensing process.”
In the mice studies, the researchers controlled a selection of microneedles to administer doses of metformin, a commonly-prescribed type 2 diabetes drug.
The experiment was successful, but the researchers are not yet close to establishing the efficacy of drug delivery in small scale studies on humans.
This will be the focus of the team’s research going forward, who want to assess how the patch works in the long-term and whether drug application from the sensor will be achievable in humans too.
The study has been published in the journal Science Advances.

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