Editors' ChoiceBioengineering

Stop Poking Me! New Implantable Microbeads for Continuous Glucose Monitoring

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Science Translational Medicine  20 Oct 2010:
Vol. 2, Issue 54, pp. 54ec164
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001792

Poke. Imagine stabbing your finger with a sharp pin and drawing blood. It’s not the most painful thing in the world, but it stings. Poke. If you are a diabetic, however, you have to prick your finger multiple times throughout the day to measure your blood sugar (glucose) level. Poke. On top of the annoyance of repeated finger stabs, the prick method is intermittent and doesn’t provide information about trends in blood sugar that could indicate problems. Implantable continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices exist, but these devices require external links for sample collection or transmitting signals, resulting in discomfort and risk of infection. An optical system could overcome these limitations; however, thus far signal intensity has proved insufficient. To address the constraints of current devices and techniques, Shibata et al. developed implantable, glucose-responsive, fluorescent microbeads that would allow for minimally invasive CGM.

To create these microbeads, Shibata et al. first developed a new dye molecule that was sensitive to glucose even when adhered to a polymer surface. This new dye was then incorporated into biocompatible polymer microbeads and injected underneath the ear skin of mice. The beads did not elicit an immune response or other negative effects in the animals for over one month. After the implantation of the beads, the glucose level of the mouse was monitored noninvasively by using a fluorescent microscope. When the animals were injected with glucose or insulin injections to modulate blood glucose levels, the microbeads were found to be similar to standard blood tests in assessing changing blood glucose levels. These promising findings highlight a new technology for glucose monitoring that could allow diabetics to end the finger-poking for good.

H. Shibata et al., Injectable hydrogel microbeads for fluorescence-based in vivo continuous glucose monitoring. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 4 October 2010 (10.1073/pnas.1006911107). [Abstract]

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