A smart patch for people with diabetes (Courtesy of Hui Won Yun)
A team of researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea is developing asmart patch to replace finger-prick glucose tests and drug injections. Made from graphene, the device measures glucose in sweat and is connected by wires to a portable electrochemical analyzer. When blood sugar is too high, it releases a drug through microneedles to lower it.
The microneedles, too small to cause pain, can pierce the skin and reach the subcutaneous tissue. To release the drug, the patch switches on a tiny heater embedded within. This dissolves a coating on the microneedles, releasing the drug.
The ultimate goal for the research team is a non-invasive devicethat combines glucose monitoring and drug delivery. One remaining hurdle is that human drug dose levels are too high to be released by the patch.
Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.