Noninvasive glucose monitor gains patent

To address the problems of invasive blood glucose testing, Professor Joseph Chaiken, of the Department of Chemistry in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, has developed the LighTouch, which accurately monitors glucose levels without a single drop of blood.

SYRACUSE, NY - To address the problems of invasive blood glucose testing, Professor Joseph Chaiken, of the Department of Chemistry in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, has developed the LighTouch, which accurately monitors glucose levels without a single drop of blood. The novel procedure uses a laser to measure spectroscopic signals in blood while the blood is still in the capillaries, thereby detecting abnormal levels of blood components such as glucose without pricking a person’s finger.

The LighTouch uses Raman spectroscopy to focus a red diode laser onto the fingertip and analyze the various colors of the light exiting the finger. These colors are indicative of the types and quantities of the different chemicals in the tissue being illuminated by the laser. By making two measurements, first with the fingertip under no pressure and the second with slight pressure applied to the flesh, researchers are able to compare the measurements and analyze only those colors that come from the part of the fingertip which moves under slight pressure-the blood. The procedure is completely painless and produces results with accuracy and precision comparable to existing fingerstick devices.

“Just as an electrocardiogram machine (EKG) produces an electrocardiogram, the LighTouch produces a Ramagram,” Chaiken says.

Experts believe Chaiken’s pioneering work will result in increased regular blood sugar testing by diabetics, a critical step in controlling diabetes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a leading cause of death worldwide. WHO estimates that about 150 million people have diabetes; that number may double by 2025.

Chaiken predicts that availability of a non-portable glucose machine for the public is still a few years away, depending on FDA approval. The first LighTouch devices will targeted for use in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. The next step would be portable devices that measure glucose and non-portable devices that measure other analytes such as cholesterol, urea, and total protein.

Chaiken holds U.S. and worldwide patents for both the device and measuring process, and has several other patents in process. In addition, he was named the winner of the 2005 Frank Annunzio Award in the field of science/technology by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, a federal government agency established by Congress to “encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind.” The $25,000 award was presented to Chaiken at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10. The award is named for the late Rep. Frank Annunzio, founder of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation.

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