Recent research funded by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and Brigham Women’s Hospital produced an all-in-one device for both blood measurements and insulin delivery for diabetic patients.
The motivations for this research were the time-consuming, brain-tasking, and physically painful processes diabetic patients carry out at least 3 times every day for balanced glucose levels. This research is promising easy living for the approximate 400 million diabetic patients around the globe.
The research was carried out by Hen-Wei Huang, Sean You, and two visiting students. The aim was to provide a solution that would eliminate the difficulties in carrying out daily insulin therapy.
Before every meal and at the beginning of the day, diabetic patients measure the carbohydrate levels of their meals, draw their blood to measure the present glucose level, combine the carbohydrate level in the meal and the blood to get the right insulin dose, calculate the amount of insulin needed and dispense it. The doses given at the beginning of each day are long-lasting, while the ones given before every meal are short-lasting doses. Both of them require high precision, dexterity, and accuracy to prevent complications.
The team addressed these difficulties by developing two simple devices. The first is a simple device that combines all the processes into one. It contains all the equipment as one and works with a smartphone app. It calculates the carbohydrates levels in meals as the user uploads a picture of the food on the smartphone app. This app measures and compares food volumes and carbohydrate levels with the USDA database.
This first device includes a lancet and glucose test strips for drawing blood and calculating blood volumes. Once the blood is drawn and put on the test strip, the glucose level is sent to the smartphone app via Bluetooth. The smartphone application calculates the needed insulin dosage for the user. The user can then inject the insulin dosage with the needle included in the device.
The second device is an all-in-one needle. This single syringe needle is for both blood glucose measurement and insulin dispersal. The team achieved this by incorporating a novel glucose sensor on the insulin dispensing syringe. Once the user inserts the needle into his/her body, the glucose sensor calculates the level of glucose in the interstitial fluid. The result is sent to the smartphone app, and the insulin dosage is accurately calculated. The accurate insulin dose is then delivered through the needle.
The team of researchers however state that the second device is to undergo other modifications before it is used on human patients.
Although these devices have not been tested on human patients yet, they have been tested on pigs and have produced accurate results.
These discoveries would improve patients’ participation in their insulin therapy. The present processes are time-consuming and discouraging for many patients. This makes this research of extreme clinical importance.
This innovation would provide a better living for the 35 million US diabetic patients and 400 million worldwide diabetic patients. That is some good news to look forward to.