Controlling Diabetes with a Skin Patch
A flexible tattoo senses glucose levels in sweat and delivers a drug as needed.
Attempting to free people with diabetes from frequent finger-pricks and drug injections, researchers have created an electronic skin patch that senses excess glucose in sweat and automatically administers drugs by heating up microneedles that penetrate the skin.
The prototype was developed by Dae-Hyeong Kim, assistant professor at Seoul National University and researchers at MC10, a flexible-electronics company in Lexington, Massachusetts. Two years ago the same group prototyped a patch aimed at Parkinson’s patients that diagnoses tremors and delivers drugs stored inside nanoparticles.
Other efforts to develop minimally invasive glucose monitoring have used ultrasound and optical measurements to detect glucose levels. And a variety of skin patches could deliver insulin or metformin, a popular drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. But the new prototype incorporates both detection and drug delivery in one device.
The patch, described in a paper in Nature Nanotechnology, is made of graphene studded with gold particles and contains sensors that detect humidity, glucose, pH, and temperature. The enzyme-based glucose sensor takes into account pH and temperature to improve the accuracy of the glucose measurements taken from sweat.
If the patch senses high glucose levels, heaters trigger microneedles to dissolve a coating and release the drug metformin just below the skin surface. “This is the first closed-loop epidermal system that has both monitoring and the noninvasive delivery of diabetes drugs di Continue reading