Science and Technology Facilities Council
No needles required – Cutting edge sweat sensor will monitor glucose levels for diabetics in real time
New technology will make it easier for people with diabetes to manage their glucose levels, without the use of a finger pricking device. A UK start-up company has created a completely non-invasive, wearable sensor that measures glucose levels in real time, using sweat instead of blood.
Located at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region, sensor design company Nanoflex Ltd has successfully developed a prototype of a wearable monitor that measures glucose levels in miniscule amounts of sweat that is continuously produced on the skin. The wearer does not have to be exercising, hot or sweating for this to work.
This new technology, developed in collaboration with the University of Warwick, relies on a very fine screen printed sensor that sits on the skin, reducing the need for tests that involve needles – whether that’s through a finger prick test or wearable invasive monitor. An important advantage of the technology, is that monitoring is continuous and in real time, day or night, and does not rely on the wearer having to stop to check their levels periodically.
The monitor then sends regular glucose updates to the wearer's (or parent’s) phone or smartwatch, alerting the wearer when action needs to be taken.
The company is one of a growing number of small companies to be taking advantage of the business incubation and advanced engineering facilities at Daresbury Laboratory, which is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Here UK businesses can gain affordable access to laboratory space and advanced engineering technology, with a strong focus on 3D printing for prototype development, enabling them to tackle their innovation engineering challenges without the financial restraints of having to buy or pay high prices to access the very latest technology.
Neville Freeman, Nanoflex CEO, said: “What we have now is a working prototype of our technology that, in just a few years’ time, could be life changing for so many. Thanks to the latest 3D printing capabilities, the excellent design input and technical support available here at Daresbury Laboratory, we have been able to optimise the design of our prototype significantly quicker and more cost effectively than through more traditional routes, and now have a product that we can demonstrate to investors. Our next steps are to widen our clinical trials and reduce the size of the monitor, with a view to bringing our product to market within the next three years.”
It is estimated that there are at least 4.6 million people living with diabetes in the UK, a figure that has more than doubled in the last 20 years.
Dave Bogg, manager at STFC’s advanced engineering facility, said: “Developing new technology products for healthcare applications can be a long and challenging process, and companies can benefit massively from access to the unique business support and incubation facilities we have here at Daresbury Laboratory. Nanoflex is a fantastic example of a life-changing product that is rapidly on its way to being a marketable product of significant benefit to society much quicker, thanks to the business and technology support here at Daresbury. This is technology that, in a short space of time, could be life changing for so many, with substantial positive impacts for both our NHS and UK economy.”
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