A Syracuse University chemistry professor has patented a device that aims to make painful fingerstick testing of glucose levels a thing of the past for diabetics.
To address the problems of invasive blood glucose testing, Professor Joseph Chaiken, of the Department of Chemistry in The College of Arts and Sciences, has developed the LighTouch, which accurately monitors glucose levels without a single drop of blood.
The novel procedure uses a laser to measure spectroscopic signals in blood while the blood is still in the capillaries. Abnormal levels of blood components, such as glucose, can be detected without pricking a person’s finger.
“Professor Chaiken has been indefatigable in his efforts to develop a glucose test for diabetics that does not involve pricking the finger to obtain a drop of blood,” says Eric A. Schiff, associate dean of natural sciences and mathematics and professor of physics at SU. “As one would expect from an outstanding scientist, his work with his collaborators to establish the validity of the method has been meticulous, and has been published in excellent, peer-reviewed scientific journals.” Chaiken’s research involves using spectroscopy to gain a fundamental understanding of light and matter interactions, then applying that research to solve practical problems of importance.
The LighTouch uses a method called Raman spectroscopy to focus a laser - which Chaiken refers to as a “CD-player type of laser that has been kicked up a notch to deliver a purer red color,” - onto the fingertip and analyze the various colors of the light exiting the finger. These colors are indicative of the types and quantities of the different chemicals in the tissue being illuminated by the laser. By making two such measurements, first with the fingertip under no pressure and the second with slight pressure applied to the flesh, researchers are able to compare the measurements and analyze only those colors that come from the part of the fingertip which moves under slight pressure - the blood. The procedure is completely painless and produces results with accuracy and precision comparable to existing fingerstick devices.
“Just as an electrocardiogram machine (EKG) produces an electrocardiogram, the LighTouch produces a Ramagram,” says Chaiken. Raman spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique used in condensed matter physics and chemistry to examine vibrational, rotational and other low-frequency modes in a system. It is named for Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, who won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering “feeble fluorescence,” later known as the Raman effect, in 1928.