The Latest Colour-Changing Glucometer

   |  Updated: August 28, 2014 17:54 IST

The Latest Colour-Changing Glucometer
Engineers at the University of Illinois have invented a glucometer that makes it easier to detect and treat diabetes. It is a glucose-monitoring system that changes colour with the increase in glucose levels. This glucose monitoring meter is nothing but hydrogel, laced with boronic acid compounds. Hydrogel is essentially a soft elastic jelly-like material.

Researchers have previously explored the possibility of using boronic acid hydrogels for glucose detection, because they are not prone to interference from most factors in the bloodstream. The experts are of the opinion that this could be an extremely feasible way of detecting the rise in glucose levels. The colour-changing material is simple and the cost to manufacture it  is also low, just a square inch of hydrogel could be enough for up to 25 patients.

This is how the device works - boronic acid reacts when it gets in contact with glucose and binds it, this causes the gel to swell and expand as the glucose concentration rises. Embedded within the hydrogel is a photonic crystal made of tiny, carefully arranged beads. A photonic crystal is like a mirror that only reflects one wavelength of light while the rest of the spectrum passes through. As the hydrogel expands, the reflected colour shifts from blue to green to red.

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However, if there isn't enough glucose to go around, two boronic acids will bind to one glucose. This causes the hydrogel to shrink before the glucose concentration gets high enough for it to expand again. The researchers at Illinois devised a solution to this problem by introducing a third chemical, called a "volume resetting agent," to bind boronic acid before the glucose is added, by pre-shrinking the gel and giving a baseline for measurements.The wavelength shift of this unique device is so precise that doctors and patients may be able to use it for automatic insulin dosing - something that is not possible by using current measurements like test strips.

With inputs from PTI


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