For many people with diabetes in the world (estimated in the U.S. alone there are 26 million), the usual way of checking the blood glucose is extracted blood. It is invasive and produces, however little, some pain. A team of researchers is working on a new sensor that can determine the levels of blood sugar by measuring glucose concentrations in saliva.

measure glucose levels in saliva instead of blood

The technique takes advantage of advances in nanotechnology and in the surface plasmon. The team, from Brown University in the U.S., created by etching thousands of plasmonic interferometers in a biochip the size of a fingernail, and used it to measure the concentration of glucose molecules present in a sample of water. Their results indicate that the biochip can detect glucose levels similar to those present in human saliva.

The concentration of glucose in human saliva is usually around 100 times lower than that of blood. So far it was too much trouble trying to measure in saliva by devices that were practical and inexpensive enough. The results of the new research show that it is feasible to use plasmonic interferometers to detect molecules at low concentrations.

The technique can be used to detect other chemicals or biological agents, including for example Anthrax spores (anthrax), and also at the same time make all measurements for the possible detections, in parallel, using the same chip. The next step that plans to give by the team of engineer Domenico Pacifici, a professor at that university, is to build sensors designed specifically for glucose and other substances in order to perform more tests on the detection capability of these devices.

In the research and development has also participated by Tayhas Palmore, Jing Feng, Vince Siu, Steve Rhieu, Vihang Mehta and Alec Roelke.