Plastic sensors for monitoring glucose levels


Diabetics need constant monitoring of their blood glucose levels. While there are current measuring devices that do the job, they rely on acupuncture, which can be painful for some. There are also implantable glucose sensors that have been recently developed, but they have a problem with their batteries, which complicates the process of implanting them inside the body, and ultimately must be recharged or replaced.

Biometric sensor

The ideal alternative technology might be in the form of implantable polymeric biosensors, capable of autonomous operation using molecules around them, which is what researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have succeeded in. They have developed an electronic biosensor device that works using glucose in body fluids.

The device pairs an electron transport polymer with an enzyme that extracts electrons from its reaction with glucose. To operate its sensor circuit. The plastic biosensor can act as a continuous monitor for key health indicators, such as blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

It is worth noting that every patient suffering from diabetes is fully aware of the importance of measuring the level of glucose in the blood to measure the amount of sugar in order to improve the management of diabetes. If you have this disease, this means that your body does not make enough insulin, as is the case in type 1 diabetes, or it cannot use the insulin it makes, in addition to that it must maintain a healthy blood sugar metabolism, which is What is called type 2 diabetes.

David Ohayon, a doctoral student in the laboratory of Dr. Shahika Inal, an assistant professor of bioengineering at KAUST, who led the research with his fellow researcher, Dr. Georgios Nikiforides, says, “The rapid, accurate and early detection of any abnormalities in the metabolism process is of great importance in monitoring many Diseases, control and prevention, including diabetes. At present, glucose monitors are mainly limited to finger prick devices, which are often painful.

Polymer and glucose

Inal and her team had accidentally discovered a polymer that seemed well suited to the task, which was developed by the team of Professor Ian McCulloch, a professor of chemistry at KAUST.

Ohayon said, the polymer used is an n-type semiconductor,. This means that it can accept electrons and move them along its basic structure. The polymer is coupled to the glucose oxide enzyme, which extracts electrons by oxidation from its reaction with glucose. These intermediates are often toxic and need to be fixed on the surface of the electrode, which complicates the process of miniaturizing the device and reduces its life span

Usually a third component is required to transfer electrons from the enzyme to the polymer.

The polymer side chains of ethylene glycol may be the key to the reaction, and this hypothesis is currently being studied in cooperation with Professor Enzo de Fabrizio's group at KAUST.

The team used this n-type polymer in a transistor to sense glucose levels in saliva, as well as in the form of half an entire polymeric fuel cell that uses glucose as an energy source to power the device.

Inal said, this fuel cell is the first proof of an entirely plastic, enzyme-based device that generates energy by electrical stimulation, operating in a physiologically appropriate medium. Glucose sensing and power generation are only two examples of possible applications when a synthetic polymer actively communicates with a catalyst enzyme, such as glucose oxide.

according to Asharq Al-Awsat said, our main goal has been to demonstrate the multiple chemical properties and innovative uses of this distinct class of water-stable polymers, which are characterized by the ability of mixed conductivity (ionic and electronic).

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