The Days of Finger-pricking May Be Over, Thanks to an iPhone Add-on

Diabetics rejoice! Thanks to a new add-on device for smartphones, the days of finger-pricking for glucose readings may soon be over.

Diabetics rejoice! Thanks to a new add-on device for smartphones, the days of finger-pricking for glucose readings may soon be over.

Researchers from Northeastern University in Boston have invented nanosensors which can be injected just under the skin and glow under a special light source, displaying a patient’s glucose levels.

The light source—three-way LED lighting—necessary to read the sensors can be as close by as the nearest cell-phone, as the creators also invented an iPhone attachment which supplies the lighting needed to read the glowing sensors. Then the attachment captures an image of the fluorescence and transmits the picture to a computer program for analysis. Brighter glow signals more glucose present in the patient’s bloodstream.

The app, still in development, allows the attachment to analyze the level of fluorescence emitted by the nanosensors; this would enable physicians to make determinations at the bedside of the patient instead of having to export the data to another computer, reported Heather Clark, team leader for the project.

According to the researchers, sodium levels in blood are also tracked by the sensors, which could be valuable in diagnosing dehydration outside of a hospital or doctor’s office.

But the possibilities this new technology presents do not end there, as its abilities could be applicable in several areas, such as:

  • Monitoring iron levels in the blood of anemic patients
  • Keeping track of dosage in any patient taking medication
  • Gauging blood gases for respiratory and/or cardiac patients

Reviewers at iMedicalApps.com saw yet another potential usage for the technology: monitoring an inpatient's status.

"If you're able to track a patient's basic metabolic panel, especially their sodium, potassium, and creatinine, you would be able to avoid multiple blood draws that happen throughout the day during a hospital stay," Iltifat Husain wrote.

A report on the nanosensors was published in MIT's Technology Review.