Chemists working to create breathalyzer to detect & monitor diabetes

By on June 11, 2013, 7:30 AM
monitor, breathalyzer, diabetes, chemists, glucose

Breathalyzers are no longer simply used to detect the presence or amount of alcohol consumed. Scientists and researchers around the world are working on all sorts of expanded tasks for breathalyzers, from detecting the presence of cocaine and marijuana to determining if someone is experiencing heart failure. The latest use comes in the form of a common disease in America: diabetes.

A group of chemists from the University of Pittsburgh are working to develop a new type of breathalyzer that could detect diabetes and monitor the progress of the metabolic disease. It’ll be able to do so by detecting a fruity odor on an individual’s breath – a common symptom that corresponds with elevated glucose levels.

This biomarker could even be used to determine the exact levels of glucose which means diabetics could use the device for continued monitoring – an approach that’s much more appealing than having to check blood sugar using a needle to draw blood.

Specifically, the chemists are working on what they call “titanium dioxide on a stick.” They use carbon nanotubes as skewers to hold titanium dioxide in place which can be used to measure acetone vapors. These vapors indicate the presence of ketoacidosis, something that builds up as a byproduct of fat being broken down in the body. Ketoacidosis also happens to be one of the first signs of type 1 diabetes.

Alexander Star, principal investigator of the project and associate professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, said alternate devices that are noninvasive, inexpensive and easy to use could completely change the paradigm of self-monitoring.

The team is working to develop a prototype that can be tested on humans and will be ready as soon as possible.




User Comments: 6

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dikbozo said:

As a person who has lived with a diabetic for 20+ years, let me add to the collective hurrah this glimmer has produced. You go scientists! Do you need an early adopter/beta tester?

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

How about they cure it, instead of developing costly band aids. How does this item doing anything different then a blood meter? solve the problem, they know how and there have been allot of phase II trials that have been successful that have just vanished.. pretty sickening to think of the possible reasons why cures have been squashed as soon as one is ready for clinical trials.

dikbozo said:

How about they cure it, instead of developing costly band aids. How does this item doing anything different then a blood meter? solve the problem, they know how and there have been allot of phase II trials that have been successful that have just vanished.. pretty sickening to think of the possible reasons why cures have been squashed as soon as one is ready for clinical trials.

A cure is the ultimate end but what this device would remove is the multiple times a day that current diabetics must stick things into their bodies to be able to obtain a blood sample to enable monitoring of the blood sugar level. Blood sugar levels fluctuate depending on what you eat, do and to some extent think and feel. Being stressed is not good. This device aside from being simple to use could easily be developed to include time of day, month, year and heart rate with potentially other activities being included. It is a single step in a much longer journey.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

A glucose meters prick is nothing and it's simple to use.. and blood, carries allot more vital potential information then your breath does, so your argument is moot. Not to mention that type 1's on a pump have a wireless connection from their meters to the pump ( medtronic et./ al. ) sop unless this device is going to be licensed to the pump companies then this is going to be useless for them.

JC713 JC713 said:

How about they cure it, instead of developing costly band aids. How does this item doing anything different then a blood meter? solve the problem, they know how and there have been allot of phase II trials that have been successful that have just vanished.. pretty sickening to think of the possible reasons why cures have been squashed as soon as one is ready for clinical trials.

It is more expensive and long term to develop a cure. These are temporary solutions.

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