Needle-Free Diabetes Testing
People with diabetes need to keep a close eye on their blood glucose levels to ensure they do not go too high or too low. Tight, long-term control over these numbers is a critical part of reducing the risk of diabetes complications, according to theAmerican Diabetes Association.
Traditional blood glucose monitors are the most common way to check daily blood sugar, but they involve painful finger pricks with a lancet for the testing. Many people with diabetes need to check their glucose multiple times per day, which means many finger pricks.
The process is inconvenient, as people with diabetes need to prep the finger with alcohol, use the lancet, and clean up the blood. The needle sites can become infected, painful, or otherwise uncomfortable. Unfortunately, most diabetics face the prospect of repeating this process for the rest of their lives.
Although they are still invasive, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) eliminate the need for multiple daily finger pricks. CGMs provide a continual measurement of blood glucose levels, but they are significantly more expensive than traditional blood glucose testers. Insurance may not cover these medical devices, and they’re only available with a prescription, making them inaccessible to many people with diabetes.
The University of Newcastle, Australia, has developed a better option for diabetes: needle-free diabetes testing through a “lickable” glucose test. Rather than testing the blood to determine glucose levels, it uses saliva.
The test strips look similar to traditional blood glucose monitors, but a special electronic ink coating reacts with saliva. This reaction allows the strip to generate the blood glucose number, letting people with diabetes quickly and easily track their levels. According to the CDC, having an easier and pain-free way to monitor blood glucose is a massive breakthrough with over 34 million diabetics (and more than 88 million people at risk of developing diabetes) in the United States.
The low-cost saliva sensor also makes expenses reasonable for people with diabetes, who already face increased costs in managing their chronic condition. The test strips can be created on a conventional printer, so the manufacturer doesn’t have to create specialty hardware for their production. The manufacturer has received $6.3 million in funding to set up a manufacturing facility, so the development process is moving along at a fast pace.
People with diabetes will gain many quality-of-life improvements with the help of this saliva test for blood glucose monitoring. Rather than worrying about the continual pinprick pain, and the anxiety that sometimes goes along with it, people with diabetes can focus on staying healthy and managing their condition. They can reduce their costs and eliminate the risk of infection from needles. For those with needle phobias, this type of test is a dream come true.
The estimated launch date for this needle-free blood sugar test is only two years away. This technology can also be adapted for other medical tests, such as COVID-19, allergies, and cancer. While it may be hard to wait for such an innovation for diabetes care, it will be well worth it.