Diabetics may soon see a day where they will not have to prick their fingers to check blood glucose levels.

Additionally, according to Makarand Paranjape, an associate professor in the physics department, that day may be coming sooner rather than later.

Paranjape has joined teams of researchers from the Georgetown Advanced Electronics Laboratory, Science Application International Corporation and Gentag, Inc. to create a new glucose-monitoring device that does not require diabetic patients to prick their fingers daily to draw blood and test for glucose levels.

“By removing the pain, we hope to increase patient compliance or the number of times a patient checks their glucose levels,” Paranjape said.

The glucose sensor has been developed as a transdermal patch that would adhere to the skin, much like a bandage, Paranjape said. The patch is covered with micro-heaters that act as individual heaters, much like a unit on a stove.

The patch is equipped with numerous micro-heaters because the pore on human skin begins to close within an hour. After the pore closes, a different micro-heater will be turned on. Paranjape said this allows the patch to be worn for a duration of time without having to replace it. The patch then uses biosensors and radio frequency identification technology to take the glucose reading.

According to Paranjape, a device such as a cell phone or PDA equipped with RFID technology could be placed near the patch to take the blood glucose level reading.

The project began back in 2000 with a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the Department of Defense. The original goal for the team was to create a monitoring device for soldiers’ vital stats, which would allow medics to better treat their patients. Rather than including RFID technology, the original design included some form of color indication on the patch to indicate glucose levels, Paranjape said.

Eight years later, the team is now looking for partners to manufacture and distribute the patch, Paranjape said. The end goal is to create a “closed-loop system” which will allow patients to monitor glucose and deliver insulin with ease. The application for the technology is not limited to just diabetes, but could one day be applied to a variety of medical conditions.

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