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Pure and Applied Chemistry

Define two different types of research

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Eliminate the Ouch

Eliminate the Ouch

Credit: Mr. Hyde
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glukometr_OT.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which blood glucose levels are elevated because of poor availability of insulin from the pancreas.  In time, the patient can experience nerve damage, blindness, damage to the heart, and other circulatory problems.  By measuring blood glucose concentrations, the individual can self-administer insulin to keep glucose at a better level.  Up until now, this measurement required a finger stick to obtain the blood, an uncomfortable and often painful process. 

News You Can Use

  • Finger stick methods for the measurement of blood glucose have been used for years.  With proper use, the health and life expectancy of a diabetic can be extended significantly.  
  • The major problem with current systems is the need to obtain a blood sample.  Newer devices have come on the market which rely upon measurement of glucose in interstitial fluid, but these approaches are not yet sufficiently reliable for everyday use.
  • Credit: Niek Beck
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikozz/3859662065/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Google is creating a smart contact lens that will measure blood glucose level directly from the tears in the eye. The project is still being tested with prototypes [Figure2]


  • Watch the video below to see several glucose meters and the method for measuring blood glucose using a meter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7H3KfMNpX4
  • Nanoparticles that implant glucose sensors under the skin are being explored by several teams.  The nanoparticles can be mixed with a solution and injected under the skin the same way tattoos are made.  Depending on the materials used, the particles can detect glucose for time periods up to several months.  
  • Still to be developed are small, efficient sensors to read the color changes and translate those changes into numbers indicating blood glucose concentrations.

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With the links below, learn more about new methods for measuring glucose. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How do these “nano-tattoos” work?
  2. What is the major problem with the system?
  3. What kinds of light have been used in these systems?
  4. Are any of these devices available for use today?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Mr. Hyde; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glukometr_OT.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Niek Beck; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikozz/3859662065/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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