Diabetes: Researchers Created a Saliva Test That Could Painlessly Detect Blood Sugar

It was developed by Australian researchers at the University of Newcastle and consists of a strip that incorporates an enzyme to detect glucose in a transistor. A world's first pain-free diabetes test developed by Australian scientists at Newcastle University could be in the hands of consumers after receiving $ 6.3 million in funding to establish the device's first manufacturing plant.

It's about a non-invasive diagnostic test for patients with diabetes that measures blood sugar through saliva. Thanks to the new device, it will be possible to control glucose levels without having to suffer the pain of daily punctures.

For diabetics, checking their blood sugar levels generally means pricking their fingers several times a day and then placing a drop of blood on a test strip. This problem encourages some patients to decrease the number of tests to avoid the painful process.

That is why the electronic strip that incorporates an enzyme to detect glucose in a transistor, the methodology used by this device, could revolutionize the way in which this condition is detected.

Physicist and leader of research from the University of Newcastle, Professor Paul Dastoor, said his team at the Center for Organic Electronics (COE) was working closely with its commercial partner and beneficiary of the grant, GBS, in an installation engineered manufacturing facility to be located in Hunter, Australia.

Professor Dastoor said, construction will begin on the facility this year, and the first devices will roll off the production line by 2023. With more than 460 million people testing their glucose levels regularly, this is a technology in high demand and has the potential to create significant growth in high-tech jobs in our region and beyond.

Dr. George Syrmalis, Group Executive Director of The iQ Group Global added, Our entire business model is about translating discovery into a product that meets an unmet medical need. The creation of a dedicated high-tech manufacturing plant to begin production of our glucose biosensor will benefit local society by creating jobs, but most importantly, patients suffering from diabetes, who have so far had to prick finger several times a day to monitor your glucose levels. This grant could not have come at a more appropriate time as we prepare for clinical trials.

Newcastle University Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky said the project was a powerful example of the direction the University was taking under its Looking Ahead Strategic Plan, launched last year.

Through our strategic plan, which was shaped by our students, staff, and our communities, we are committed to establishing Hunter as the ultimate test bed for innovation and driving investment in the new industries that are needed to create the opportunities. jobs of the future. This project is a tangible example of the realization of that plan and another proud moment for our region believes Zelinsky.

How does it work?

The saliva test makes the painful fingerstick tests for type 1 and type 2 diabetes obsolete, representing the first major innovation since the blood glucose test was developed in the 1960s.

Professor Dastoor attributes this, in part, to inspiration from his wife, who as an elementary school teacher helped the young children in her care to control their blood glucose levels.

Dastoor lamented, it's a heartbreaking scenario when the lunch bell rings and everyone runs to the playground except for a few unfortunate ones who are left behind to hand over their finger for a blood test at every meal. Our vision was to create a world where no one needed to bleed to eat.

With glucose concentrations in saliva 100 times lower than in blood, that was easier said than done.

One of our key challenges was the complete unavailability of glucose in saliva. It exists in minute concentrations, so you need to develop an incredibly powerful platform to detect it. Saliva also contains a plethora of other substances, so it then has to shut off a lot of 'noise' to make sure the results are accurate, detailed Dastoor, who noted that the sensor, similar in size to a rubber bar of chewing and considerably thinner, it is incredibly powerful and detected substances that exist in saliva in minute concentrations.

With this highly sensitive platform, we can now detect glucose at the levels found in saliva for the first time, he warned.

Coated with a natural enzyme, glucose oxidase, the biosensor interacts with saliva and produces a reaction that generates an electrical current. This current can be detected and measured to reveal high-precision glucose levels that could be delivered via a smartphone app and data stored in the cloud.

Potential use in other chronic diseases

Dastoor believes the sensor could be developed for application in 130 indications, including tumor markers, hormones, and allergens.

“The biosensor is a platform technology, which means that it will be widely applicable to detect a variety of substances that identify a variety of diseases. We are already looking for the substances that identify cancer, hormones and allergies, pointed out Professor Dastoor.

As specified by the research group, the sensor could help with urgently needed new diagnostic tests to help eradicate Covid-19. His team is partnering with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University to help develop the sensor platform as a non-invasive Covid test.

"The Wyss Institute has developed a smart antifouling coating that can be incorporated into the biosensor platform, offering a new diagnostic tool for Covid-19 that can be printed on plastic strips on a large scale, " they concluded.

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