New wearable technology can measure blood sugar using sweat

Safoora Khosravi, a PhD student in UBC’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has developed an advanced wearable glucose sensor that could reduce the need for painful finger pricks by people living with diabetes.

The non-invasive technology can measure blood sugar levels using sweat instead of blood and is embeddable in activewear and other apparel. This should come as welcome news to the millions of people with diabetes who must draw their own blood multiple times a day in order to monitor their health.

“Our sensor requires just a small amount of sweat — around 10 microlitres — to give an accurate reading. Most people produce this quantity during a 10-minute workout,” says Khosravi, who was inspired to develop the technology after witnessing the struggles of relatives with the chronic disease.

“The device collects key data from your sweat, and we are now working to enable it to connect wirelessly to your smart phone. This will allow you to not only monitor your sugar levels, but also obtain valuable information about your diet with ease.”

One in three Canadians, or about 11 million people, has diabetes or prediabetes. Blindness, heart attacks and kidney failure are just a few of the serious health consequences of elevated blood sugar levels, which can damage nerves and arteries over time.

Yet due to the inconvenience and discomfort of regular finger stick blood sugar tests, many people with diabetes do not monitor these levels as closely as they should. Blood sugar testing is key to finding out whether potentially life-extending changes in medication, diet or lifestyle are necessary.

Safoora Khosravi

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