Paper microneedle patch effortlessly monitors glucose levels in real-time

September 17, 2020

A microneedle patch consists of a small polymer square studded with an array of tiny needles on its underside. It painlessly pierces the top layer of skin to analyse interstitial fluid, whose contents typically correspond to those in the bloodstream. This allows for detection of sensitive information that could ultimately save someone’s life. Japanese scientists at the University of Tokyo have added to this technology by designing a paper-backed microneedle patch capable of measuring blood glucose levels.

It is hoped that with further development of the microneedle patches, people could use the cheap, disposable, biodegradable, and biocompatible devices in their own home, to test themselves for conditions such as prediabetes.

The scientists began their work on the experimental device by using a mixture of melted biodegradable polymer and salt to form a basic microneedle patch. This was pressed down against a sheet of paper, causing the polymer to flow into the pores of the paper, bonding with it.

When firm, the polymer/paper combo was removed from the mould and its microneedles were cooled in a solution that drew out the salt. This left the needles filled with thousands of tiny pores, which draw in fluid via capillary action. Finally, using double-sided tape, a piece of glucose-sensitive paper was attached to the base paper.

In tests afterwards, the pores in the needles successfully drew in fluid from an agarose gel containing dissolved glucose. It travelled up through the base paper and into the glucose-sensing paper which caused the latter to change colour, indicating the amount of glucose present in the gel.

The scientists are still modifying the technology to test for various other conditions, by implementing paper that is sensitive to biomarkers other than glucose.


Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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