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[IP] Jab-Free Blood Sugar Test Inching Closer to Reality

Jab-Free Blood Sugar Test Inching Closer to Reality
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By Anne Harding 

BOSTON (Reuters Health) - Scientists are hard at work looking for ways
people with diabetes can measure their blood sugar without the painful
and scarring jabs now necessary for blood collection. 



Several researchers discussed the state of the art Sunday at a symposium
at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting. 

Dr. Yizhong Yu, chief scientist at Animas Corporation in Frazer,
Pennsylvania, discussed his company's efforts to develop a tiny,
titanium-coated device that would communicate continuous blood glucose
readings to a monitor worn on the patient's wrist. Sensors would poke
through a blood vessel wall to gauge the blood's absorption of
near-infrared light. The device, roughly the size of a pacemaker, would
convert these readings to blood glucose levels, and is intended to last
for at least 5years in the body. 

One major hurdle in developing devices that use light to measure blood
glucose has been coming up with a formula to convert light wavelength
readings into glucose levels. Yu reported that blood tests from more
than 500 patients--far more than other companies developing similar
devices--have shown Animas's formula is quite accurate. 

Human tests will likely begin in a year or less, Yu said. But, he added,
"I do not want to paint a very rosy picture...there is a lot for us to
do to really get a sensor to the market." He told Reuters Health he
could not estimate the price of the device, but said it would be a cost
insurers would be comfortable paying. 

Animas's device, Yu and other panelists at the meeting said, is the
furthest along among other similar implantable devices under

Researchers are also investigating a completely non-invasive method:
measuring wavelengths of near-infrared light after it passes through the
skin. Dr. Mark A. Arnold of the University of Iowa in Iowa City reported
on his efforts using this method. 

After about 9 years, Arnold said, he and his colleagues are ready to
begin clinical tests of a system in which a beam of light is passed
through a roughly 2 millimeter pinch of skin at the back of the hand.
The experiments are being funded by NASA ( news
20&yn=c&c=news&cs=nw>  - web
yNews/manual/*http:/search.yahoo.com/search?p=NASA&h=c>  sites), the
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and
Inverness Medical Technology. 

Dr. Gerard L. Cote of Texas A&M University and his colleague Michael V.
Pishko of Pennsylvania State University are developing a sensor that
would be implanted just under a patient's skin. The implant would
consist of tiny beads or a thin slab of material that would glow under
fluorescent light to varying degrees depending on the glucose
concentration between skin cells. 

In this method, a person would, theoretically, get the implant at a
doctor's office. Then he or she could shine fluorescent light from a
device about the size of a laser pointer on the skin over the implant.
The device could read the resulting level of fluorescence and provide a
blood glucose reading. 

Tests in rats have shown the implants did not produce inflammation in
the animals or irritate them in any apparent way, and that the beads did
fluoresce under the skin under fluorescent light. A sheet of the
material would probably be most practical for human use, Cote noted, as
it would be easier to remove and provide a larger area for readings. He
predicts such an implant could probably last a year in the body. 

He predicted that human tests of the material could begin in 5 years. "A
lot of it depends on funding," he added. 

Dr. Vladimir Alexeev of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues are
developing a material that, they hope, could be used as an eye insert or
contact lens that would monitor glucose levels in the tear fluid
covering the eye. The material, called a hydrogel, changes color as
glucose levels increase and decrease. 

Alexeev and colleagues are now working on their third generation of the
material, which shows a shift from red to blue as glucose levels rise.
Alexeev's team has received an NIH grant to begin animal studies of the
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