REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA. Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels is a critical part of the effective management of diabetes. Current techniques involve the collection of small samples of blood (from a pin prick on the finger) one or more times a day. The samples are analyzed with a portable blood glucose analyzer and the results used to guide the administration of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents. Recent research has shown that more frequent glucose measurements lead to better control and decrease long-term complications. In view of the fact that current methods are invasive, time- consuming, and somewhat painful most diabetics only perform the measurement one to four times per day. It would clearly be ideal if measurements could be performed automatically and without pain several times an hour.
Researchers from the University of Colorado and Cygnus Inc. now report the results of a
major study designed to investigate the accuracy and reliability of automated, painless
glucose measurements using the GlucoWatch biographer developed by Cygnus. The
study involved 92 diabetics (type 1 and 2 requiring insulin) over the age of 18 years (37
men and 55 women). Each participant was fitted with one (29 participants) or two (63
participants) GlucoWatch biographers and wore them on the arm throughout the 15-hour
test period. During this period they also performed two fingerprick measurements of blood
glucose every hour. The GlucoWatch is a small, non-invasive instrument (the size of a
wristwatch) that measures the level of glucose excreted from the skin following the
application of a very small electric current.
Comparison of the glucose values obtained by the two methods showed excellent
correlation with the GlucoWatch values closely tracking the standard fingerprick values
with a time lag of about 18 minutes. The researchers noted a mild skin irritation after the
removal of the GlucoWatch, but suggest that this problem can be overcome by alternating
the position of the device. They conclude that the GlucoWatch provides reliable results
which can materially improve the management of diabetes. The device produces glucose
readings three times per hour and also has a built-in alarm that warns of hypoglycemic
episodes. NOTE: This research project was funded by Cygnus Inc. the manufacturer of
the GlucoWatch biographer.