The race to develop a blood glucose skin patch monitor speeds up with UCSD pilot

Are thin-film/adhesive patch glucose monitors the thing this year? University of California San Diego Health (UCSD Health)  opened earlier this month a clinical trial of their self-adhesive ‘tattoo’ type glucose monitor. This monitor measures the glucose present in perspiration through two electrodes embedded in the thin adhesive film that apply a small amount of electrical current to make glucose molecules in the skin rise. The clinical trial sampling people with Types 1 and 2 diabetes ages 18-60 with fasting plasma glucose (FPG) > 126 mg/dL, or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) > 6.5%. Those in the trial will be comparing their readings from the thin film monitor with a standard glucometer through June 2019. Patients wearing the sensors will receive a minimum of two doses of pilocarpine gel to induce sweat, at fasting and at time points ranging between 15 to 200 minutes post meal. Neither the article nor the clinical trial explain the reading process.

In a Mobihealthnews interview with Patrick Mercier, codirector of UCSD’s Center for Wearable Sensors, the sensor can be produced for under $1, comparable to a blood glucose test strip.

Tattoo-type sensors and strips made the news about two-three years ago in their early stages of development and now are resurfacing with both trials and investment. Sano received $6 million from Fitbit for its combination of sensor and mobile app. The University of Bath has designed a multi-sensor patch that doesn’t need gel to raise a sweat; it measures interstitial fluid located between cells within the body-hair follicles [TTA 24 Apr]. We are rapidly moving towards less-invasive monitoring systems and better diabetes management.

More tattletale data gathering: EEGs and sub-cutaneous RFID chips

There’s a new biometric marker in town being used for authentication: the EEG (electroencephalograph). Brain waves have a cacaphony of information about emotional state, learning ability and personality traits, now being collected in relaxation or gaming apps through inexpensive headsets as simple as earbuds. So instead of iris scans and fingerprints, now it’s EEGs. However, it’s yet another privacy invading and eminently hackable source of data. Privacy: the collectors of information off that app may be matching your brain wave pattern to those on a data base–say, alcoholics. “In a blind trial, a machine learning classifier, trained to recognize brain patterns associated with alcoholism, used the brain wave data from the authentication systems to accurately identify 25 percent of the alcoholics in the sample.” You may not be a drinker, and the reading may be utterly ‘off’, but now it’s in the open, you have no idea of how it will be used. Similar patterns can be used to match from databases to identify learning disabilities, mental illnesses and more, which could make you tough to insure, for instance. IEEE Spectrum  Hat tip to former editor Toni Bunting.

The next generation of peripherals may not be external at all. Already around 50,000 early adopters or bodyhackers are implanting glass RFID chips in their hands or other parts of their bodies to let themselves into their homes and offices or to store emergency information. The head of a digital unit of Capgemini stored his Scandinavian Airlines boarding pass and travel information in a December test. This type of chip, about the size of a rice grain, uses no electricity but will activate when scanned by a reader. It’s easy to forecast medical uses such as records before surgery (operate on the right foot, not the left), an ID and information for someone post-stroke or with dementia, or as smart card loaded with funds. But this Editor can see it coupled with a nanosized battery as being tested now in external sensor patches or biostickers as John Rogers at University of Illinois, MC10 and others have been designing for several years–and the potential geometrically increases to send out other data such as vital signs. Perhaps EEGs one day? Wall Street Journal — plus a collection of our coverage of sensor patches