Diabetics: a pain-free glucose test on its way

Diabetics may soon be able to monitor their blood glucose levels without a painful prick to the finger. Researchers from the University of Arizona and Mayo Clinic in the US are developing a new monitor that uses your tears instead of blood.

Announced March 17, the new sensor allows you to draw tear fluid from your eye to get a glucose-level test sample. For diabetes, managing blood glucose levels is a nagging process requiring a blood sample, with some patients having to prick their finger to draw blood several times a day.

"It's the painful finger prick that makes people reluctant to perform the test," explains bioengineer Jeffrey T. LaBelle, who designed the new device along with his team of engineers. "This new technology might encourage patients to check their blood sugars more often, which could lead to better control of their diabetes by a simple touch to the eye."

Last year, the team published a report on the new device to the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology. Arizona nonprofit BioAccel is working with the developers to bring the product to market, but more work needs to be done to ensure accuracy of the reading. Plus LaBelle wants to fine-tune the process for users, who need to perform the test quickly enough so that the test sample doesn't evaporate, he said.

Another new product, now out on the market, designed to help manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes is the IDEAL LIFE Health Tablet. The first electronic tablet to automatically sync data between healthcare provider information systems and patients' health records, IDEAL LIFE works on any cellular network, connecting consumers with their own health records when they need them.

Type 2, the most common form of diabetes, has spread fast from rich countries to fast-developing economies as fatty, sugary diets and sedentary lifestyles take hold. More than 220 million people worldwide are afflicted with the disease, which kills more than one million people every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). As obesity rates increase, the number of deaths could double between 2005 and 2020, the WHO has said.

Read more about the glucose monitor: http://asunews.asu.edu/20110315_asumayodiabetesdevice

Learn more about the IDEAL LIFE Health Tablet: http://www.ideallifeonline.com

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