New smartphone technique developed for measuring blood glucose levels by researchers

The US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a new technique that uses the magnetometer in a cellphone to accurately measure blood glucose levels. This technology takes advantage of the magnetometer that is present in most modern cell phones, which is typically used for navigation purposes but has other potential applications. Researchers believe that this method could be expanded to measure various molecules and biomarkers in blood.

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers attached a small well containing a solution instead of blood and a strip of hydrogel to a cellphone. The hydrogel, a porous material that swells when placed in water, was engineered to react to glucose levels and pH levels by expanding and contracting. Changes in pH levels can indicate different disorders. The movement of magnetic particles within the hydrogel in response to changes in glucose levels caused corresponding changes in the strength of the magnetic field detected by the magnetometer in the cell phone.

The researchers claim that this method has the ability to measure extremely small concentrations of glucose, although such sensitivity may not be necessary for at-home glucose monitoring. This technology has the potential to enable testing for glucose in saliva, which has lower sugar concentrations. The NIST team stated that the smart hydrogels used in this study are cost-effective and relatively simple to create, making them viable for inexpensive test kits that can be connected to a smartphone app for measuring blood glucose levels.

The results of this research have been published in the journal Nature Communications. This innovative use of a smartphone’s magnetometer has the potential to provide a low-cost alternative for blood glucose monitoring compared to existing options.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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