Prick-free way to monitor glucose might be the future

Diabetes is nothing to take lightly but many of its life-threatening dangers can be avoided by vigilance. Sadly, despite our hi-tech age, monitoring blood sugar levels still feels almost medieval, drawing a drop of blood to feed into portable glucometers. Luckily, science and technology might be on the verge of coming up with less invasive means to measure glucose levels. At the University of Leeds in the UK, a small device utilizes lasers to do all the measuring, and it's low-powered enough not to do any damage to your skin, much less prick it.

The way it works sounds almost similar to how portable oximeters and heart rate monitors on smartphones work. A user touches a nano-engineered silica glass to start the process. A low-powered laser is then fired into the user's finger. The device then measures the duration of fluorescence, which is dependent on the concentration of glucose in the blood. Clinical tests yielded 95.5 percent accuracy, almost on par with current ways to measure glucose levels but less bloody.

This isn't the first attempt at a non-intrusive blood sugar measuring tech. Google itself has been eying, no pun intended, using contact lenses for the very same purpose. However, these contacts would measure glucose levels through tears. That said, some might consider having to wear contact lenses intrusive as well.

This newer tech from Leeds also has the potential to become a wearable as well. Although the current prototype is a finger-touch device that has to be set on a table, another model would be something that the user can wear inconspicuously. This latter method has the advantage of providing continuous monitoring of data that can be fed into a smartphone or tablet. It can then, in turn, provide more timely alerts than waiting for the next monitoring schedule.

The University of Leeds and med tech company NetScientific PLC have spun out a new company named Glucosense Diagnostics, who has licensed the technology to bring it to market.