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Breathalyzer for Blood Glucose Monitoring

Nov 28, 2013

Could testing blood glucose become as easy as breathing?… 

Ronny Priefer, PhD, lead researcher with Western New England University, and colleagues have developed a breathalyzer-like device that can monitor blood glucose in a non-invasive manner. The polymers contained in the breathalyzer react with acetone, one of the ketones which is produced in diabetic patients when fat is used as fuel because there is not enough insulin, and use the breath’s humidity, whereas in previous breathalyzer models, the humidity interfered with results. The development is still in its infancy; clinical trials have yet to begin and the size of the current model of the device is too large for the developers. Plans are to start trials late next year and in 2015. The researchers will conduct two controlled trials where the device is tested against the standard finger prick method and blood draws to assess blood glucose levels. They will also be looking for other confounders that may impact blood glucose readings from the breathalyzer standpoint (i.e., smoking, types of foods eaten, testing time from eating/drinking).

Practice Pearls:
  • Current medicine relies on blood glucose readings to monitor and manage diabetes; improved blood glucose control and decreased blood glucose fluctuations have been associated with improved outcomes.
  • The only method for assessing blood glucose control currently is either via finger stick (which patients can do at home) or through a blood draw, both which can cause pain and decreased compliance with blood glucose monitoring

Research presented by Ronnie Priefer at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists meeting 2013