Welsh project to develop blood glucose monitor that can text alert
8 September 2011
Scientists from Swansea University and Welsh companies are
developing a next generation blood glucose-monitoring sensor that will
send a text alert when there is danger of a hypoglycaemic attack.
The project will combine expertise in nanoelectronics and ehealth
and involve the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities from the
Centre for Nanohealth and ehealth Industries Innovation Centre at
The £470,000 research project is backed by the Welsh Government’s
EU-funded Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme which
promotes industrial collaboration to help turn research into
commercial viable products, processes and services.
The overall aim is to develop a low-cost, non-invasive,
ambulatory and continuous monitoring system using novel sensors and
Dr Vincent Teng, a nanoelectronics expert from Swansea
University’s College of Engineering, is leading the project and said
that the blood glucose management will significantly improve the
quality of life of diabetic patients and their families.
“Diabetic patients with low blood glucose can become unconscious
due to hypoglycaemia and there are many reported incidents where
patients, who either live or work alone, fainted without the notice
of others and such occurrence can often be fatal.
“Therefore, a multi-functional monitoring system is important to
manage the glucose level of diabetic patients and to provide warning
when the patient is unconscious.”
The device being developed in Wales involving both nanotechnology
and wireless mobile technology will transmit readings from the
sensor to mobile phones and subsequently to the NHS and the clinical
team responsible for the patient care. It will also provide an
emergency alert to next of kin or medical personnel if the patient
is suffering from hypoglycaemia attack.
The device will provide continuous blood glucose measurement
using nanowires biosensor, unlike the commonly used ‘finger stick’
glucose meter that requires patients to carry out up to ten tests a
It will also differ from the majority of products on the market,
as the process is non-invasive and pain free. The blood sample is
collected via an array of micro-needles — measuring less than 1mm
from the dermal layer of the skin — which has fewer nerve endings.
Dr Vincent Teng of Swansea University’s College
of Engineering examines nanowire biosensors using state-of-the-art
fabrication techniques at the Centre for NanoHealth.
Edwina Hart, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and
Science, said it has the potential to create significant health
benefits for patients, savings for the NHS and create direct
benefits for the Welsh economy: “It is another example of the high
level research being undertaken in Wales with support from the Welsh
Government and illustrates the importance of our universities
working in collaboration with industry to bring new products to
The prototype is to be developed over the next 30 months and will
have a direct and rapid route to market through the industry
consortium. The monitoring system will have the capability to be
adapted for other chronic conditions, such as coronary heart
disease, stroke, cancer and asthma etc.