Glucose test device for diabetics that does not involve pricking the finger

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.

Experts believe Chaiken’s pioneering work will result in increased regular blood sugar testing by diabetics, a critical step in controlling diabetes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a leading cause of death worldwide. WHO estimates that about 150 million people have diabetes; that number may double by 2025.

For his achievement, Chaiken has been named the winner of the 2005 Frank Annunzio Award in the field of science/technology by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation. The $25,000 award was presented to Chaiken at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10. The foundation is a federal government agency established by Congress to “encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind.” The award honors living Americans who are improving the world through ingenuity and innovation, and to provide incentive for continuing the research. It is named for the late Rep. Frank Annunzio, founder of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation.

Chaiken predicts that availability of a non-portable glucose machine for the public is still a few years away, depending on FDA approval. The first LighTouch devices will appear in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. The next step would be portable devices that measure glucose, as well as non-portable devices that measure other analytes such as cholesterol, urea and total protein; Chaiken believes these machines can be developed in the coming years. He holds U.S. and worldwide patents for both the device and measuring process, and has several other patents in process.

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  1. Roberto Martinez Roberto Martinez Argentina says:

    I am interested in learning about checking the blood sugar without pricking a finger.

  2. Marvin J. Dequaine Marvin J. Dequaine United States says:

    My fingers look like pin cushions,  Please help

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