Shining a light on diabetes

Checking sugar levels without pricking yourself

A quick and painless way to measure blood sugar is highly sought-after by diabetes sufferers, who currently have to prick their fingers to draw blood several times a day. Now, researchers in the US may have found a solution – a device that works by simply shining a light on skin.

The vision is to create a laptop-sized device that could be kept at home or carried around. Rather than having to pierce the skin to obtain blood samples, the device measures sugar levels by simply placing a scanner against the skin. Because measurement is fast and easy, it is hoped that the device may encourage people with diabetes to check their blood sugar more often, giving them better control over their condition.

At the heart of the device is a Raman spectrometer, which can identify chemical compounds by measuring how near-infrared laser light scatters on contact with molecules. The idea of using Raman spectroscopy to measure sugar levels in blood was first suggested 15 years ago by Michael Feld at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although Feld sadly passed away in April this year, his team is now starting to realize his vision……………

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