- In a collaborative effort, Dae Hyong-Kim, assistant professor at Seoul National University, and researchers at MA-based MC10 have developed a prototype of an electronic skin patch, which if approved, could change the way people with diabetes manage their disease.
- The electronic patch is designed to sense excess glucose in sweat and automatically administer drugs by heating up microneedles that penetrate the skin. The patch is made of graphene studded with gold particles. It has built-in enzyme-based sensors that are designed to detect humidity, glucose, pH, and temperature, according to MIT Technology Review.
- Although this is not the first time that scientists have developed a skin patch with the goal of making diabetes management easier, this is the first prototype that combines detection and drug delivery in one device.
According to statistics from the American Diabetes Association and the International Diabetes Federation, 29.1 million people in the U.S. and 371 million people worldwide, have diabetes. For a patient with diabetes, there is a significant burden associated with ongoing blood-glucose monitoring and treatment with insulin or other antidiabetic drugs.
Patients with type 1 diabetes are counseled to monitor their blood glucose levels at least 4 to 8 times per day, while patients with type 2 diabetes should monitor at least twice per day. Add to that, the need to inject different types of insulin with short-acting and long-acting properties, and it's understandable why medical compliance presents a major challenge in this community.
There is a longstanding unmet medical need for easier ways to manage diabetes, and scientists have been hard at work trying to develop minimally invasive devices.
To date, there has only been one FDA-approved minimally invasive blood glucose-monitoring device. GlucoWatch Biographer, which was approved in 2001, used an electrical current to extract fluids subcutaneously. Unfortunately, many patients developed sores and experienced discomfort, prompting the FDA to take the device off the market.
In addition to various patches that have been developed using ultrasound or optical methods for detecting blood glucose, patches have been developed that can deliver insulin and other drugs. The trick is to calibrate drug delivery with changes in blood glucose levels that necessitate intervention. The next stage for the collaborators is to translate their prototype to the clinic and receive the necessary regulatory approvals.