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Diabetes: New affordable portable device allows better disease control


Breakthrough in managing diabetes?
Researchers have succeeded in developing a new portable device that can help control diabetes by monitoring sweat. The development could put an end to blood tests with painful pinpricks. The device is able to recognize three special compounds in sweat and measure them over a period of one week - without loss of signal integrity.

In their research, the University of Texas scientists found that the newly developed portable device reliably analyzes patient sweat and can thus help manage diabetes. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "Scientific Reports".

Sweat test measures cortisol, glucose and interleukin-6
The portable diagnostic biosensor can detect and measure three interconnected connections. Cortisol, glucose and interleukin-6 can also be found in a sweat test a week later. These markers are particularly important for managing and regulating the chronic disease, explains author Professor Shalini Prasad from the University of Texas. “We created the first portable diagnostic device that can measure these connections in sweat for up to a week,” the experts add.

Stress can lead to prediabetes
When a person is exposed to chronic stress, their cortisol levels increase. The resulting insulin resistance will gradually affect glucose levels, says Prasad. At this point, those affected can develop so-called prediabetes, which can become type 2 diabetes. When this happens, there is an inflammation condition in the affected person's body. The marker for such inflammation (interleukin-6) indicates whether organs are already affected, explains the expert.

Small amounts of sweat are sufficient for the measurement
According to the scientists, the biomarker measurements are reliable even with a small amount of sweat. One to three microliters is enough, the researchers say. We wanted to create a useful product that does not require a lot of sweat, emphasize Prasad and colleagues.

The device measures different molecules in a combinatorial manner
It is not enough to recognize only one of the connections. Measuring different molecules in a combinatorial manner and monitoring them over a longer period of time enables medical professionals to better analyze and understand the health history of those affected, the study authors explain.

Doctors are currently developing a suitable app for the new biosensor
In the future, the portable devices should contain a small transceiver that sends the measured data to an application (app) installed on a mobile phone, says Prasad. With such an app, which is currently being developed, it is sufficient for users to press a button to request the required information from the device, adds the author.

New device is very inexpensive
If the concentrations of the compounds are measured every hour over a period of one week, 168 measurements of the health data and their changes are made, explains Professor Prasad. This enables doctors to have a better overview of the disease and its effects. The new diagnostic device was developed very inexpensively, which is why the end product will be accessible and affordable for a large number of people. "We have made sure that processes are used that enable mass production without additional costs," says Prasad. The manufacturing costs are comparable to the costs that are required for the production of glucose test strips for single use. In other words, the manufacturing costs are only about ten to 15 cents, explains the author. (as)

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