S. Korean diabetes patch monitors blood sugar and delivers metformin

Diabetes patch--Courtesy of Seoul National University

To add to the slew of researchers looking for a new way to deliver treatments to diabetics who want to avoid shots, a team of researchers in South Korea have developed a patch that can both monitor blood sugar and deliver treatments based on the sweat of the patient.

The device, according to the abstract in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and an article in the magazine Popular Science, consists of sensors that pick up sweat from the patient's skin and, depending on the pH and temperature, detect a high or low glucose level. Based on that analysis, tiny heaters in the patch activate to dissolve a coating that releases metformin, a drug that regulates blood sugar.

Like natural insulin, the patch should control blood sugar without an additional drug regimen.

There are a few questions to be answered, though, as brought up by a professor at the University of Bath well-versed in diabetes regulation, Richard Guy. They include: Would exercise activate the device? Can it last 24 hours at a time? And can the drug delivery be scaled up to account for a patient's need?

The scientists tested the device on mice and two adult males in small doses.

- here's the Popular Science story
- get the Nature Nanotechnology abstract