April 19, 2003
Contact Lens Color To Show Diabetic Blood Sugar Level

Some day in the future diabetics will be able to look at the color of their eye contact lenses in the mirror in order to detect their blood sugar level.

PITTSBURGH, April 14 Millions of people suffering from diabetes mellitus may be spared the ordeal of pricking their fingers several times a day to test blood sugar levels, thanks to a breakthrough by University of Pittsburgh researchers who have developed a non-invasive method to measure the glucose level in bodily fluids.

Researchers Sanford A. Asher, Ph.D., professor of chemistry in the faculty and College of Arts and Sciences, and David Finegold, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine, created a thin plastic sensor that changes color based on the concentrations of glucose.

The sensor material, which would be worn like a contact lens, was described in a paper published in the online version of Analytical Chemistry on April 11. The paper is scheduled to be published in the print version of Analytical Chemistry, a publication of the American Chemical Society, on May 1.

"There has been a increasing demand for continuous, non-invasive glucose monitoring due to the increasing number of people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and the recognition that the long-term outcome of these patients can be dramatically improved by careful glucose monitoring and control," said Dr. Asher.

"The current method of testing glucose in diabetes patients-by drawing blood from a finger prick-is uncomfortable and is dependent on patient skill and compliance for regular testing," said Dr. Finegold.

The researchers plan to embed the sensing material into contact lenses worn in the patients' eyes. Patients will determine their glucose levels by looking into a mirror-similar to women's makeup compact mirrors, but with a color chart to indicate glucose concentrations-to compare the color of the sensing material with the chart.

The sensor will change from red, which indicates dangerously low glucose concentrations, to violet, which will indicate dangerously high glucose concentrations. When the glucose level is normal, the sensor will be green. The researchers are still determining the number of detectable gradations, but expect that it may be as high as the finger stick meters currently provide.

The University of Pittsburgh, which owns this patented technology, has licensed this technology to a new startup company that will engineer the material and commercialize it. The researchers believe the product is at least a year from being tested in humans. The researchers expect that their technology would be able to be incorporated into currently available commercial contact lenses, which would be replaced weekly.

This seems like a pretty cool idea. While it is reasonable to expect that cell therapy or gene therapy will provide a cure for diabetes in 10 or 15 years the concept has other potential applications for measuring other body biochemical levels. Imagine a sensor keyed to measuring the severity of some other biochemical problem that could provide an indicator for when to take other drugs. Heck, sensors could be designed to measure the level of a specific drug and if one is taking that drug one could also wear a contact lens designed to detect it. Then one could glance in a mirror to see a color that indicates that one needs to take another pill.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 April 19 01:57 AM  Biotech Assay Tools

James Peal said at July 27, 2003 5:40 AM:

This sounds Great :)
I have been a diabetic for 38 years now .And I check my blood 4 times aday. I would be one that would like to try this.. Heck you can use me to try it on I would do it for free .We all that have this have been waiting for a better way to check are blood. Thank you for all the hard work you have done for us..and May God bless you in what your doing for us.Thank you again James Peal .

gail dvoretz said at November 14, 2004 3:40 AM:

I was the person who was tested on the Diasensor and although the FDA said "No" to that product because it didn't work, I knew that was a lie. It worked on me! If you can get these passed through the FDA who are paid by big companies that sell strips...good luck! I was at that FDA meeting that reviewed the information on the Diasensor and when the guy who owned stock in Johnson and Johnson said no to that product, I realized it was all about money and not about the people. I prick my finger 10-14 times a day and use the Advanta Jet to deliver insulin rather than use needles. Imagine I have an HBA1C of 4.5 because I don't use needles and take insulin as often as I need too and even that product is being hidden. Haaa, isn't the medical community wonderful. Well, I hope you all can get those contacts to market because my fingers are almost done but I doubt that a product like yours would make the strips not needed and that is way too much money to take away from greedy pharmaceutical companies. Good luck and if you need any testing canidates I would like to be one of them.
Thank you.
Gail Dvoretz

nadia cordova said at November 29, 2006 8:47 PM:

I have had diabetes since i was 2 1/2. I have tested my blood sugar 4 times a day for the past almost 20 years. I would love to try this product.

Please contact me

Susan Davis said at July 23, 2007 4:17 PM:

I've been a diabetic since I was 7 years old. I haven't been one long but even by now I'm so sick of all the complications that go with it and so saddened by being stripped of my childhood. I know there are worse things out there but what's getting to me now is the fact that I don't know about so many trials and tests going on for diabetics. I heard about this through a friend and after reading this I am extremely interested in it. It could be really helpful to those of us who have type 1 and don't get so many things going for us. I hope that this does get through and would be one to test it for free if possible. Best of luck to it and crossing my fingers.
~Susan Davis

casey said at April 12, 2008 1:43 PM:

I have been a dibetic for 9 years now im only 17 and i test like 10000 times a day it seems. its hard to be a kid with dibeties and its no different for an adult im sure. this product sounds amazing and would be a merical for tons of famileys i know! i cant wait to hear more about this proudect!!

john yeap said at November 1, 2009 5:03 AM:

i just recently diagnose of diabetic type II and i check my blood twice a week, well so far so good cos i have since stop smoking and drinking for good

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