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[IP] Wave Goodbye to Finger Sticks?

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Wave Goodbye to Finger Sticks?

Painless Ways for Diabetics to Measure Blood Sugar Being Investigated

By Sid Kirchheimer
WebMD Medical News  Reviewed By <A
ilda Nazario, MD</A>
on Thursday, December 19, 2002

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Dec. 2, 2002 -- Instead of dreaded, painful finger sticks done several times
a day, people with diabetes may someday be able to accurately monitor their
blood sugar levels as easily as taking their temperature.

They may employ infrared light waves and computers instead of needles and
blood glucose meters by means of cutting-edge technology that uses the same
principals of ultrasound but with better resolution.

The first trials of these experimental techniques suggest there may be new,
painless, and noninvasive ways to accurately keep tabs on blood sugar
according to two studies in the December issue of Diabetes Care, a medical
journal published by the American Diabetes Association.

In one study, a prototype of a new device estimated blood sugar "with
clinically acceptable accuracy," says lead researcher Carl Malchoff, MD, of
the University of Connecticut Health Center.

The handheld device performs like an ear thermometer by measuring the body's
infrared heat emissions. "You just place it against the eardrum for about 10
or 15 seconds to measure blood glucose levels," he tells WebMD. "In fact, it
basically is an ear thermometer like you would buy over-the-counter."

If future studies produce similar findings and the product is developed, it
could offer a safer, more convenient, and less painful way for diabetics to
monitor their blood sugar levels. Currently, the most convenient way to
measure blood sugar levels is with finger sticks, in which a drop of blood
drawn from the fingertip several times a day and measured in a blood glucose

Besides the handheld model, which is about the size of a cell phone, Janusz
Buchert, PhD, inventor of the device and president of Infratec Inc., tells
WebMD he hopes to raise enough money to develop another prototype that could
provide continuous blood sugar monitoring. "This would be worn like a
aid and could be connected to an implanted insulin pump," he says. In the
other Diabetes Care study, researchers from the University of Texas Medical
Branch in Galveston tested the feasibility of monitoring blood sugar with
optical coherence tomography (OCT), a relatively new imaging technique used
for other medical applications -- including the diagnosis of glaucoma and
other eye diseases. With this technique, a probe is placed on the skin and
light waves reflect off specific body tissues with better resolution than
what is seen on ultrasound. Though the study demonstrated that OCT could be
used to monitor blood sugar readings, none of the 15 study participants had
diabetes. And since OCT is performed in a doctor's office or imaging lab, it
doesn't offer handheld or ear-wearing convenience. "We need to prove the
validity of this technique in additional studies," says biomedical engineer
and study author Kirill V. Larin, PhD. "But if proven effective, it could
provide a noninvasive way to monitor blood glucose. The images produced are
very high resolution."

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