Mar 17, 2014 09:02 AM EDT
Clemson University Students Develop Cheap Blood Sugar Testing Kit
Clemson University students have created a cost-effective, blood sugar testing kit for diabetics.
The bioengineering department created test strips and a glucometer from readily available parts. The devices are affordable than their commercial counterparts. The kit would be helpful in Tanzania and other developing nations, the student say.
The kit works in similar fashion to conventional methods of testing blood sugar. The only difference is that Clemson students designed an inkjet printer that shoots enzymes instead of ink. As a result, the strips can be generated for just 1 cent each when compared to commercial strips that costs as much as $1 each. Majority of the diabetics need to use five or more a day.
The students are now collaborating with regulators in the United States and Tanzania to seek approval for the prototype's distribution. Human testing is scheduled to begin soon.
"What excites me most about this is it puts the technology in the hands of the people who are in need," Tyler Ovington, a senior from Greenville and a member of the project, said in a statement. "It empowers them to provide themselves with health care and make the standard of health care that we have in the U.S. more ubiquitous across the world to give all populations a fair chance at a life."
Delphine Dean, an associate professor of bioengineering, said that diabetes is one of the major health problems in the East African nations. The accessibility of commercially available test strips and glucometers haven't been able to curb the issue.
"The meters and the test strips don't match, and they're completely useless," Dean said. "So the patients have to go without testing."
Medical professionals said that regular testing helps maintain blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is high, diabetics need to take insulin and when it is low, they need to eat. The failure to maintain blood sugar levels leads to complications, including kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, neuropathy, ketoacidosis and gastroparesis.
During the project Dean hoped that the glucometer would be accurate enough to meet standards but at the end the meter proved to be as accurate as existing ones on the market.
"It turns out our accuracy is quite good and is on par, if not better, than some of the meters on the market," Dean said.
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