New Glucose Monitor Keeps Tabs on Diabetics From Inside

By Joseph Calamia | July 28, 2010 5:03 pm

monitorA new device may one day save those with diabetes from the frequent finger-pricking and cumbersome external monitors required to check glucose levels–by instead keeping tabs from inside their torsos. In a study published online today in Science Translational Medicine, researchers report that an implantable glucose sensor has worked in pigs. Ultimately, clinical trials and FDA approval will determine if the device holds any promise for humans, but researchers say this animal test is an important first step.

“You can run the device for a year or more with it constantly working, and recording glucose quite satisfactorily. Now, we are focused on getting the human clinical trials going. We hope to begin the first human trial within in a few months,” said [lead author, David Gough.] “If all goes well with the human clinical trials, we anticipate that in several years, this device could be purchased under prescription from a physician,” said Gough.[University of California – San Diego]

As Popular Science reports, the device is “just a bit smaller than a Double-Stuf Oreo”–around 1.5 inches wide and half an inch thick. Gough and colleagues implanted the device in two pigs: one for 222 and and another for 520 days. It works by monitoring oxygen consumed in a chemical reaction with the enzyme glucose oxidase–the amount of oxygen consumed is proportional to the amount of glucose in the user’s blood. Though some already use similar sensors, none have lasted this long.

The authors say that short-term glucose sensors already exist, but they need to be replaced every 3-7 days and haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a “primary standard for glucose measurement”.[Nature]

The device can make up for variations caused by exercise and surrounding scar tissue doesn’t seem to affect its readings. It relays glucose levels wirelessly to a data recorder about the size of a cellphone.

“Continuous glucose monitors are very helpful, but the key thing is that you have to wear them, and that’s a big challenge for many people,” says Aaron Kowalski, research director for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s [a co-sponsor of the study] artificial pancreas project. He notes that, because current devices are still slightly conspicuous and require vigilance, teenagers and young adults are less likely to wear them. “So the idea of having a one-year sensor that is implanted is very, very appealing” [Popular Science].

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Technology
  • steve


    Ah, ‘scuse me?

    Anyone know where, exactly, they would implant something bigger than a double stuff Oreo?

    Just askin’.

    Seems relevant to the story.

  • Georg

    Why dont they control a insulin reservoir/pump with
    this device?

  • Joseph Calamia

    Georg, great question. I think that’s a next step. From the UC San Diego release (linked above):

    –“With an insulin pump, there is always the concern that it will pump too much insulin, leading to dangerously low blood glucose levels. The sensor could serve as a safety mechanism against low blood glucose levels,” said Gough, who noted that major research efforts to use readings from glucose sensors to program insulin pumps are well underway. Researchers are primarily using needle-type glucose sensors, but these needle sensors could be replaced with the new implanted sensors if and when they are approved for human use.–

  • steve

    Seriously -in what part of the body would they implant this?

  • fatkid

    Steve, many diabetics had no problem making room inside themselves for double stuffed oreos already, finding room for another shouldnt be too difficult. I’m not a troll, I’m just a fatkid.

  • steve

    FK, I don’t think either of us is a troll, but actually, I’m not sure why that is even relevant.

    I was just trying to get an answer to a salient question.

    The Popular Science article cited above mentions that it would be in the torso, so I will now assume it would be similar to the pump’s locations.


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