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New Method May End Pain of Diabetes Tests

Thanks to a dedicated team of Los Alamos scientists, diabetes patients soon will be able to monitor their blood sugar levels by testing their breath.

This revolutionary new method may replace the daily finger-pricking by which diabetics test their blood glucose levels.Microplasma Used For Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels

Millions of people are affected by diabetes, a disease caused by the body's inability to regulate its sugar levels, and which may result in heart failure, blindness, and loss of extremities. To manage diabetes, some patients inject insulin, take medication, or adjust their diet and monitor their blood-sugar levels frequently.

The breath test developed by Yixiang Duan of Chemical Diagnostics and Engineering and his colleagues allows a sample of breath to interact with microplasma formed by ionizing helium or argon gas and analyzing the results. The method has been patented and both the device that generates the microplasma and the spectrometer that interprets the results have been developed, Duan said. The team expects to integrate both pieces of equipment into one hand-held device that eventually will be ready for use in hospitals and in private homes.

Duan holds a bachelor's degree in radiochemistry from Fudan University in China, a master's degree in analytical chemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a doctorate in analytical chemistry jointly from Jilin University and Indiana University.

He said he has been interested in diabetes research for the past 10 years. "I noticed early on that diabetes monitoring is a big issue worldwide and that there was no efficient, noninvasive method available for people to use," he said.

Duan, who has been with the Laboratory for 15 years, said he particularly enjoys the wide-ranging research environment at the Laboratory. "It covers everything from chemistry and biology to physics and environment," he said, adding, "This creates a unique research and development environment for cross-disciplinary research."

--Tatjana K. Rosev

The work is featured in both the February Currents and in the December 1663 (page 24).


February 09

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