Graphene patch for Diabetes Management: A Medical Contribution of Nanotechnology

As scientists continue to break ground in combating Diabetes, biotechnology seems to be running parallel to the progress being made. A relatively new concept is garnering excitement, namely, a graphene patch with sensors that is worn (similar to a nicotine patch) to measure glucose levels found in perspiration, which is proven to be akin to blood glucose levels. Once measuring is complete, it proceeds to administer the proper dose of an anti-diabetic drug should it be called for by using microscopic needles.

Scientists have cited the immediate rewards of this innovative approach to the management of Diabetes Mellitus, saying it is the ideal method long sought after because the inconveniences that come with traditional invasive methods to administer medications (such as needles) are no longer part of the picture.

This marvelous device utilizes several sheets of a synthetic fluoropolymer called Nafion to soak up sweat; the built in sensors would then make the appropriate reading of current glucose levels. The graphene patch is made with lively electrochemical materials (by doping the graphene with gold atoms) that provide the device functionality by being responsible for catalyzing the detection of glucose.

The chemical reaction that occurs within the glucose sensors is well known: Glucose oxidase is an enzyme that interacts with the soaked up glucose from sweat to result in hydrogen peroxide as the product. Hydrogen peroxide will then pull electrical current from the gold atom imbibed graphene. This electrical excitement is correlated to the quantity of surrounding glucose.

Another built in attribute of this device is the versatility of the aforementioned sensors. They not only read glucose presence in sweat, but they also minimize possible measured reading errors by being able to detect pH as well as temperature levels. When worn by enlisted participants who wanted to try this new device, it was found that the readings it gave before and after meals was the same as glucose meters available commercially.

On the monitoring side of the patch, the sensors send the incoming signals for analysis, where analyzed information is then sent to a modern phone by wireless means.

The drug dispensing system is made of sophisticated 1-mm-long fluoropolymer needles imbibed with metformin (a diabetes-fighting pharmaceutical) that punctures the epidermis and disintegrates to deliver said drug. Also, the needles have a coating of tridecylic acid which is heated and subsequently melted by a mesh of gold graphene that rests atop the myriad of needles. The melted acid then disintegrates into the dermis and delivers the intended drug with it.

Certain components of the patch are sooner to realization than other components. The sensory part of the patch is probably the most likely to be ready first. However, the microscopic needles must be miniature enough to reap the benefits of noninvasive methods and also, the accompanying drug should therefore be potent enough despite lower dosages.

The glucose-sensing portion of the device currently has the drawback of constant sensory calibration in order to secure a precise and correct measurement of glucose levels.

Conceptually, this new device is giving cause for excitement and hopefully, we see many more vanguard attempts at improving life with Diabetes.

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