According to the International Diabetes Federation, 415 million people worldwide have diabetes; that amounts to one of every 11 adults. It is not an overstatement that this disease has reached epidemic proportions, costing as much as $1.45 trillion in healthcare worldwide. The standard treatment for diabetes is for patients to measure their blood glucose levels at multiple times throughout the day, and then administer a dose of insulin. This testing currently requires an invasive and potentially painful finger stick to get a drop of blood. Scientists are searching for a better way.
One promising avenue of research is underway by Applied Nanodetectors LTD in conjunction with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in the U.K. They have completed a project that demonstrates the feasibility of printing sensors on a plastic substrate to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a patient’s breath. These VOCs can be used as biomarkers to indicate glucose levels. The result could lead to a low-cost, user-friendly device that diabetics could use for daily management of their condition. As a result, the affordable devices could improve the quality of care in under-developed regions, reducing the healthcare costs associated with the disease and its complications.
This is just one more application for diagnostic devices that analysis components in a patient’s breath (see here, here, and here for other recent Health Tech Insider stories). Ultimately, multiple sensors could be incorporated into a single device that could scan for many health conditions at one time in a simple, convenient, non-invasive and low-cost test.