Glucowaves for Convenient Pain-free Blood Glucose Level Monitoring

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To overcome the limitations and discomforts associated with the invasive and minimally-invasive devices used for blood glucose monitoring, we are proposing a compact low-cost wearable sensing system that utilizes microwave sensors and Artificial Intelligence to enable diabetics to non-invasively monitor their blood glucose levels without sampling any fluid outside of the body. The device measures the blood glucose levels non-invasively by sending electromagnetic signals of small wavelengths through the finger skin (illustration 1). Signatures of blood glucose levels are reflected in the sensor scattering responses that are further analyzed to identify the blood glucose levels accurately. Our technology eliminates the need for implanted sensors, patches or devices that use chemical reactions or fluid transfer through the skin. The device will be ultimately realized as a wearable technology around the wrist or finger for daily use by diabetics similar to smart watches that monitor the heart and breathing rates.

Such a novel sensing system will allow a real-time glucose-level monitoring, thereby leading to a better management of diabetes, and enabling earlier warning of adverse health events. The system is also beneficial for critical care situations where the patient’s data can be analyzed remotely in real-time on the cloud, and thus provide the physicians greater insights to aid in instant diagnosis that are more accurate. This microwave sensor is compliant to the green form of technology that features the non-invasive glucose measurements in nondestructive fashion using non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation that penetrates inside the skin with no risks to the human health. The electrical size of the sensor is relatively small which allows for a compact miniaturized realization in a wearable format. More importantly, the unlimited reusability throughout the sensor lifespan, hence no replacement is needed over the long term as for currently available continuous glucose monitors.

The sensor has proved the efficacy in identifying changes of glucose levels through detecting minute variations in their electromagnetic properties. This is done by experimenting several prototypes for monitoring the varying glucose level in synthetic and authentic blood samples of concentrations typical to the diabetes conditions. The portable prototype shown in illustration 2 has been developed and tested for tracking the glucose levels for healthy adults by placing their fingertips onto the sensor. The sensor design incorporates four cells of complementary split ring resonators (CSRRs), arranged in a honey-cell configuration and fabricated on a thin sheet of a dielectric substrate. The CSRR elements are coupled via a planar microstrip-line to a radar board operating in the ISM band 2.4–2.5 GHz. The enhanced design of the CSRR elements intensifies the electric field over the sensing area in the near-field region, thus allowing the sensor to detect small variations in the electromagnetic properties that characterize the varying glucose levels. Therefore, placing the fingertip over the sensing region would consequently perturb the distribution of the highly concentrated electric field, and further induce noticeable changes in the sensor transmission response. These responses are analyzed using machine learning algorithms to extract the glucose features and correlate them to the actual blood glucose level.

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  • Name:
    Ala Eldin Omer
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Ala Eldin Omer, University of Waterloo
    George Shaker, University of Waterloo
    Safieddin Safavi-Naeini, University of Waterloo
  • Profession:
  • Ala Eldin is inspired by:
    Diabetes is a huge and growing problem, and its costs to the society are high and escalating. Over 450 million people worldwide suffer from Diabetes. In North America, 37 million people, and in Canada, about 5.0 million Canadians (about 15% of the population) are expected to be with diabetes by 2025. Diabetics are in enormous need for frequent self-monitoring and control of blood glucose to help reducing its progression and avert any potential complications. Negligence to preserve certain glycemic targets would probably put the patient at the risk of experiencing the extreme events of hyperglycemia (> 230 mg/dL) resulting into serious health complications such as heart attack or failure, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation, etc. Alternatively, for very low glycemia levels, patients would encounter hypoglycemia (< 65 mg/dL) that could rapidly lead to life-threating events such as coma or death.
    Abundant evidences point to clinical benefits following frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose in Type-1 (6 – 10 times/day), insulin and non-insulin treated Type-2 (2 – 4 times/day) diabetes. However, the pain, burden, expenses, overthinking, time management, and inconveniences associated with current self-monitoring technology where patients must prick their fingers multiple times a day to draw blood samples and constantly purchase a fresh supply of test papers, can lead to patient noncompliance and insufficient number of daily measurements. Additionally, these invasive devices could only provide glucose measurements at a specific time spot by the time of testing. Therefore, their readings will not reflect any long-term patterns or trends in glucose fluctuations due to specific lifestyles, diet regimes, or medication intakes.
    Accordingly, we have suggested that non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring via a pain-free portable microwave sensor may encourage more frequent glucose estimations and thus contribute more generously to diabetes care and prevention. Through continuous glucose monitoring, symptoms of diabetes are properly managed, responses to remedies are better evaluated, glycemic targets set by physicians are closely achieved, and progressive complications are prevented.
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