Friday, November 22, 2013

Needle-Free 'Breathalyzer' for Daily Diabetes Testing Shows Promise

News Brief by Lucia Joseph

Individuals with diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels in order to safely manage their insulin levels and food intake. At this time, the only reliable means of testing blood sugar levels is with a blood sample, and getting one of those requires piercing the skin with a needle on a regular basis. This article from Long Island Newsday’s HealthDay section describes a novel alternative technology modeled after the Breathalyzer. Instead of measuring alcohol levels, these Breathalyzers are designed to measure the levels of acetone in a person’s breath. Chemical levels of acetone rise in accordance with blood sugar levels. In fact, acetone is responsible for the characteristically sweet, fruity smell on the breath of people with diabetes.

Interest in the Breathalyzer technology is especially high because of its potential to improve the quality of life for people with diabetes by simplifying the process by which they measure their blood glucose. However, some experts caution that the success of the Breathalyzer is highly dependent on correlating acetone levels with blood glucose levels. So far, researchers have been unable to confirm a linear relationship between the production of acetone and blood-glucose levels. In other words, while the Breathalyzer is an exciting innovation, it’s is not ready for aggressive implementation.

Reference:   Gordon, S. (2013, November 13). Needle-Free 'Breathalyzer' for Daily Diabetes Testing Shows Promise.Newsday. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from

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