A New Way to Check Blood Glucose Levels?

Written by Bonnie Sanders Polin PhD

No More Pricking Fingers?
We start out this week's diabetes news and research review with news about a new continuous glucose monitor which does not rely on pricking fingers for blood samples.

For years, those of us with diabetes have been on the lookout for a blood glucose monitor that does not rely on reading the glucose levels in a blood sample. Now, the people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing a technology which relies on florescent nanoparticle ink that is injected below the skin. There's also a monitor about the size of a watch worn on the body.

The new system called Tattoo uses carbon nanotubes as the ink, which has the ability to reflect infrared light through the skin to the monitor. According to Michael Strano, a chemical engineer and one of the researchers from MIT, the nanotubes will glow in infrared light and they can be made to do this when glucose is present. They will shine at different wave lengths depending on the amount of glucose in the blood.

When light is shone on the nanotubes, they will send back light which will read the blood glucose levels. Now we just wait and see if this system really is the painless way to read blood glucose levels. It has a ways to go, but you can be sure that we'll keep up on it.

Read the story from MIT about the Tattoo here.

Type 2 Diabetes Medications: Avandia
If you are befuddled reading about side effects of medications we take, you will be interested in the following article from the Lancet of June 3, 2010, titled "Low-dose combination therapy with rosiglitazone and metformin prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus (CANOE trial): a double-blind randomized controlled study." The article was by Bernard Zinman, MD et al.

In an effort to control the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, the researchers assessed the safety of combining medications to affect the development of the disease.

Avandia was given in half doses. These researchers looked at the amount of time between being diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance and developing type 2 diabetes. What they did with the 207 participants was to randomize them to either the combination of the medications or placebos.

They examined vital status in the 198 participants who took at least 80% of the medication. They found that 66% of the participants who took the combined medication received a relative risk reduction. They gained a 26% absolute risk reduction.

The researchers also found that 80% of the people in the combined medication group went back to normal glucose tolerance, while 53% in the placebo group went back to normal.

Insulin sensitivity became decreased in the placebo group, but remained stable in the treatment group.

The researchers concluded that the low-dose combination of these 2 medications was very effective in the prevention of type 2 diabetes in this group of participants with impaired glucose tolerance. There were very low side effects noted from the diabetes medications.

Read the abstract on The Lancet's site for more details.