Researchers from the Western New England University developed a device the size of a small book that diabetes patients can use to monitor their blood glucose levels. Unlike traditional finger-stick testing, this minimally invasive breathalyzer uses acetone levels in patients’ breath to determine blood glucose levels.
The team, led by Ronny Priefer and Michael Rust, presented their work at this year’s American Assn. of Pharmaceutical Scientists meeting in Denver.
Although finger stick testing has improved in recent years, the team said that as many as 67% of patients with diabetes may not properly monitor their condition because the testing is invasive and can be painful. Keeping a close eye on blood glucose levels is important for diabetic patients, because if someone’s blood glucose is too low, they can endure complications such as seizures, loss of consciousness and even death.
“We believe this technology will be a great improvement in the lives of people with diabetes,” Priefer said in prepared remarks. “It is the first non-invasive medical device for detecting and monitoring diabetes by connecting one’s acetone levels with their blood glucose. We believe it is a necessary alternative to the finger-prick approach for people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”
The team tested the breathalyzer device in a small, stage I clinical study of 50 participants – 26 people did not have diabetes, 16 had type 2 diabetes and 8 had type 1 diabetes. When patients blow into the device, it immediately takes a reading of the acetone level in their breath which is correlate to a blood glucose level. Early clinical results show clear correlations between blood glucose levels and breath acetone, according to the researchers. The team identified 1 outlier, who is a smoker and had high levels of acetone in the breath as a result of the combustion of tobacco.
Priefer said he is working to make the device even smaller and get it to patients by the end of 2017.