[IP] Let's Test the Sugar in Your Sweat
A noninvasive meter that measures glucose in perspiration instead of glucose
in blood is being developed.
VivoMedical, Inc., of Cupertino, California, has conducted preliminary
clinical studies on humans to establish the correlation between the glucose
in sweat and glucose in blood.
"The results are encouraging," CEO Robert Blair tells me. "We are targeting
the replacement of the blood-stick with a skin patch and a reader."
VivoMedical is only two years old. But the company began in 2000 as MedOptix
"We founded MedOptix to detect glucose on the skin surface with an optical
detector," Blair says. "But we concluded that the question of its glucose
specificity is a huge hurdle."
While spectroscopy is sensitive, it's not glucose-specific enough, Blair
says. You might think that you are looking at the desired glucose signal,
but it might just be an artifact, giving an erroneous reading.
I asked him how they were able to shift gears. "We were always looking at
sweat on the skin surface, and that wasn't a shift," he says. "What has
changed is the sensor technology. We concluded that we couldn't detect
glucose unambiguously with an optical sensor, but we can with a
glucose-oxidize electrochemical sensor-the same chemistry that the
The patent application describes a patch the size of a Band-Aid placed on
the skin. The planned application site is the palm or a finger, because
these areas have a high density of sweat glands and are convenient for the
user. After testing, the patch will simply be discarded.
Blair hopes to price the VivoPatch competitively with test strips. The
VivoReader should likewise be priced about the same as blood glucose meters,
when produced in volume.
The old saying has it that "laborers sweat, gentlemen perspire and ladies
glow." But everybody sweats at least a little, because it is part of the
body's thermal management system, says VivoMedical's chief scientist Russell
For decades, scientists have known there is glucose in sweat, he says. "The
trick is to correlate it with blood glucose. That is pretty much what we
have figured out."
For more information, log on to www.vivomedical.com
John S Wilkinson,
Rome, New York
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