Rethinking Healthcare

Cheap diabetes test made of paper

Cheap diabetes test made of paper

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This new strip would be ideal for measuring sugar levels in some rural parts of China and India, where type 2 diabetes is looming. And it uses urine... no more finger pricks.

Scientists have developed a new, inexpensive paper-based device designed for diabetes testing in rural areas of developing countries.

Like clinical tests for type 2 diabetes, the new glucose monitor measures sugar levels -- but it uses urine rather than blood obtained from a pin-prick to the finger.

And even though urine test strips for diabetes are on the market and seem inexpensive, their cost are still be prohibitive in areas such as rural China and India where the disease is looming, American Chemistry Society explains in its Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast.

The device, developed by Jan Lankelma of VU University in The Netherlands and colleagues, consists of: 3 electrodes, a buffer solution, a piece of paper, and a plastic dish.

  1. The sample is injected onto the paper (or nitrocellulose) with a slightly modified medical syringe.
  2. The solution moves along the paper by gravity and capillary action (like the way water climbs).
  3. An enzyme called glucose oxidase, which is already on the paper, reacts with glucose.
  4. This produces hydrogen peroxide, which is detected by the electrodes.

The device also could be adapted for diagnosing other conditions, analyzing food, or monitoring the environment.

The findings were published in ACS' Analytical Chemistry.

[Via ACS]

Image from Lankelma et al.

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure