Thai smartwatch tech to measure blood sugar from sweat

Siliguri, India: No more painful pricks and piercings to get your blood sugar levels checked. A Thai university has developed a cutting-edge innovative tech that replaces the need for blood to measure glucose levels for diabetic patients and instead delivers effective results using body sweat. 

The smartwatch developed by the researchers at the Metallurgy and Materials Science Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University is reportedly accurate in its measurement alongside being painless, less expensive, and in real-time. 

The amazing tech has just received the Good Invention Award for Science and Pharmacy, 2021, and has struck a partnership with the Thai government's tech and innovation development arm the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).

Globally hundreds of millions of people suffer from diabetes, which is one of the world's most widespread diseases, and conditions related to the same are the leading causes of death around the world. 

In Thailand alone, up to 5 million Thai people suffer from diabetes according to the Diabetes Association of Thailand’s report, in 2020.

Globally, an estimated 463 million adults are living with diabetes, according to the latest 2019 data from the International Diabetes Federation.

Apart from maintaining food intake and doing enough physical activities, doctors and government health agencies around the world swear by regularly (in short intervals) testing blood sugar levels to ensure the body is not affected by a negligent spike in glucose levels. 

Currently, the most widespread method of checking blood tests is via blood drawn from a tiny prick on fingertips or blood collected using a syringe from the veins.

But these processes are time-taking, painful, and sometimes expensive, especially when frequent blood sugar testing is advised by doctors. 

This smartwatch, targeted for the diabetic will cut the painful and expensive crap when it comes to keeping track of blood glucose levels, by checking the same from body sweat in real-time. 

But the question is - 

Can we depend on blood sugar tests done from sweat?

According to the Deputy Director of the Metallurgy and Materials Science Research Institute, Dr. Natnadda Rodthongkam, medical reports confirm that glucose levels in sweet have a direct co-relation of the same in blood. 

According to the researcher, "their technology helps reduce the burden of healthcare workers" and "patients do not have to waste money and time traveling to the hospital and risk complications.”

“Knowing real-time blood sugar and lactate levels will help patients take care of themselves, adjust their behavior, or seek immediate medical attention before it becomes dangerous. We, therefore, devised a method that is faster, more accurate, and doesn’t need fasting or drawing blood, ”said Prof. Dr. Natnadda.

How is it done?

Traditionally, to test from the presence of diabetes via a wearable, without piercing or drawing blood, the device must rely on elements that are reactive to glucose present in sweet. 

Researchers have previously confirmed that there is a strong correlation between the concentration of glucose in sweet to that of the blood.

But it was also found, wearable devices that use special sensors to detect the presence of glucose from sweet were ditched by the glucose on the skin surface that had no relation with the actual body's glucose content, thereby confounding the results. 

We The World Magazine cannot independently confirm if the researchers in this piece of Thai tech has taken measures to evade the same confusion. 

In this project, the Chula-NSTDA joint project has developed what they call a special, 'biochemically modified' fabric yarn designed to absorb sweat and is sensitive to glucose and lactate enzymes in a single device.

To measure the glucose levels, users have to insert the sweat-dampened yarn into a section of the smartwatch case to compare the measurement against a standard Calibration Curve. 

If the blood glucose is low, the color will be light, if high, the color will be dark, while the lactate value will appear even darker in color, “Prof. Dr. Natnadda explained.

At this point, the team is collaborating with physicians specializing in diabetes treatment and the Comprehensive Geriatric Clinic at the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Thailand, to test the effectiveness of the device. 

Following the preliminary efficacy trials, the device will be designed to be used by real diabetic patients, before rolling out to the public. 

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