Spanish project develops microfluidic chip for regulating diabetes
5 June 2009
Scientists of the Electronic Technology Group of the University of
Seville (US) have completed the first phase of Mireia, a research
project to develop a microfluidic chip to monitor and medicate diabetes.
The aim of the project is to extract the interstitial liquid with
micro needles that are 200 microns long (the double than a hair's
thickness). This painless process is carried out with sensors and micro
fluidics and patients are informed every now and again in their mobiles
of their level of glucose.
"There are many devices in the glucose field that do work, but the
novelty of our research work is that we can use the same technology to
extract liquid and to inject it", said project leader Professor José
Manuel Quero. He does not hesitate to stress that the following stage
would consist of providing insulin almost automatically, and always
under medical supervision. This could be also applied to many other
Prof. Quero points out that during the first of the four years of
works, efforts have been focused on solving the different parts the
patch is made up of. In the next few months issues regarding the
integration of the components, assessment of the results and adjustment
will be dealt with.
That is why the initial phase of the project consisted of the design
of the micro needles. "To put it simply, we have used a biocompatible
material, SU8 (photo sensible polymer) which we have processed using
different techniques to obtain the needles and be able to put them in a
flexible printed circuit (or PCB)", said Carmen Aracil Fernández, a
researcher in the group.
In order to extract the liquid, we are using a patent of the
University of Seville which allows to create a micro syringe made up by
a small deposit with a whole linked to the needle which is topped by a
membrane that can be destroyed in a control way.
Researchers are currently working on the creation of a system able to
measure the different variables that determine factors such as the level
of glucose. That's why they are focusing on the design of the Lab on
"The idea is that the liquids we take go through a circuit designed
by means of micro fluidics, where the different sensors are mixed with
reactive elements, etc", said Prof Quero.
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