Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Electronic mosquito" to aid diabetics

I get very excited when I read about new innovations that could help my elderly mother. She has diabetes and needs to regularly test her glucose level. Pricking her finger is not one of her favorite activities, and she often has trouble with the glucose testing kit.

So, it was with interest that I read about a new device, the "electronic mosquito", patented by engineers at the University of Calgary. This innovation offers a "less invasive alternative" to diabetics who have to take regular samples of their blood. As the article points out, diabetes has been described as a global epidemic, affecting 246 million people around the world.

What is the "electronic mosquito"?
* a patch, like an adhesive bandage, about the size of a deck of cards

How does it work?

* "contains four micro-needles that bite sequentially at programmed intervals"
* controlled to penetrate the skin at just the right depth so the patient experiences little or no pain
* a sensor in each cell measures glucose levels
* data can then be sent wirelessly to a computer or some personal monitoring device
* alarm can be sounded if glucose levels go into the danger zone

What are the next design steps?

* Make components smaller to fit more needles on the patch, thus allowing the patient to wear patch for longer time or test more frequently
* The engineers hope to integrate a pump system for insulin injections that could become "autonomous based on data from the e-Mosquito".

* The university's technology transfer and incubation centre needs to find an industry partner to speed up product development and bring this new technology to market