Speed Reads

Science!

Princeton researchers measure blood sugar with lasers

A research team at Princeton University has developed a way to measure blood sugar using lasers.

The Princeton team directed an IR quantum cascade laser at the palm of the patient's hand, and the patients absorbed the laser's light. The amount of light that the patient's sugar molecules absorbed signified the amount of blood sugar in the body. The laser, which used harmless infrared light, targeted dermal interstitial fluid rather than blood.

The researchers hope the new system will help diabetic patients test their blood sugar levels without having to use the traditional method of finger-pricking. The team plans to create a portable version of the laser for diabetic patients.

The research, published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, examined the blood sugar levels of three healthy individuals before and after eating 20 jellybeans. The researchers used the laser system as well as traditional finger-prick tests over several weeks, and found that while the laser results had a larger margin of error than the traditional test, the laser's results stayed within "the clinical requirement for accuracy," Princeton reports, which is a positive sign for its use in the future.

"We are working hard to turn engineering solutions into useful tools for people to use in their daily lives," Dr. Claire Gmachl, a professor of electrical engineering at Princeton, said in a statement. "With this work, we hope to improve the lives of many diabetes sufferers who depend on frequent blood glucose monitoring."