Scientists from Korea, Massachusetts, and Texas are working together to develop a flexible, graphene sensor that could help Type 2 diabetics regulate their blood sugar. The experimental design features a clear wrist cuff made of graphene and doped with gold. When worn properly, the wristband is able to detect changes in blood sugar levels, and administer a drug to stabilize blood sugar levels if needed.
Currently, there exist various “robotic pancreases” for patients with Type 1 diabetes, in which insulin is no longer produced by the body and patients have to administer the hormone through injections. These robotic pancreases are fully automated and can detect changes in insulin levels and administer insulin on demand. However, this system is not ideal for Type 2 diabetics whose bodies still produce insulin. The graphene wristband senses the wearer’s mechanical strain, body temperature, and the chemical composition of their sweat—to infer the level of blood glucose in the body. The wristband then calculates and uses microneedles to administer the appropriate dose of metformin, a drug which helps the liver properly respond to the existing insulin already in the bloodstream.
The wristband is still in the experimental phase. It does not yet produce enough insulin in the body and there can be a 15-20 minute lag in response. However, the technology does show promise.