One of the most important ways of managing diabetes is checking blood sugar multiple times a day. Blood sugar is very easily affected. Food, exercise, mood, not being active, dehydration, change in hormone levels, alcohol, as well as illness are all factors that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose meters and testing strips can get quite expensive for those suffering from diabetes. A typical Type 1 diabetic can spend up to $4,000 a year just on glucose test strips. Medications, visits to doctors, annual tests, and even healthy food that is imperative to managing diabetes can get very pricey and expense can grow even higher to those without insurance. Doctors are also quick to prescribe newer medications for managing diabetes such as Levemir, Humalog, and Apidra that are incredibly expensive.
A new way of testing blood sugar could ease the cost for many diabetics in the very near future. A copper based sensor could soon be available to test glucose levels from body fluids other than blood, such as sweat and tears. This new copper sensor would be a cheaper and simpler alternative for monitoring blood sugar. Those that grew up pricking their finger to check blood sugar are now seeing new methods of testing such as the popular medical device that can be inserted under the skin. This technology however, remains expensive since it uses precious metals such as platinum and gold.
Copper mixed with polystyrene used in a sensor could easily detect glucose in salt-based fluids. Professor Yamauchi of Japan’s National Institute of Materials Science said, “Copper based glucose sensors have been intensely studied as copper is low cost, superior in performance, and very conductive.” The sensor has been built by researchers at University of Wollongong’s Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials and can quickly and accurately detect blood glucose. Hopefully in the near future a copper based sensor will be a cheaper and more effective method for testing blood sugar in diabetics.