June 21, 2013

Diabetes Breathalyzer

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breathalyzerA new study is showing glimpses of hope in diagnosing and managing blood glucose levels in diabetes using the formation of “titanium dioxide on a stick.”. The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).

Using a transmission electron microscopy image, Chemists at the University of Pittsburggh have demonstrated a sensor technology that could simplify the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes through breath analysis.

Those of us with diabetes know the smell of acetone, on our breath, is a bad sign.  The longer this fruity smell lingers, the more we realize we’re dealing with high glucose levels. This is why the team sought to develop a device for diagnosing and monitoring blood glucose levels.

“Current monitoring devices are mostly based on blood glucose analysis, so the development of alternative devices that are noninvasive, inexpensive, and provide easy-to-use breath analysis could completely change the paradigm of self-monitoring diabetes.”

This approach of analysis used titanium dioxide and carbon nanotubes. These specific molecules were used because they are stronger than steel and smaller than any element of silicon-based electronics.

The magical combination of biology, chemistry, and physics turns this  extraordinary process of measuring blood glucose into an unbelievable feat of painless precision.

“Our measurements have excellent detection capabilities,” said a lead investigator. “If such a sensor could be developed and commercialized, it could transform the way patients with diabetes monitor their glucose levels.”

Dogs can smell low sugar. People can smell high sugar. With this technology, a machine may be developed with the capability of sensing high, low, and all ranges of glucose levels. Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh serendipity?

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