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Scientists have designed a sweatband that can measure blood sugar levels without the need for painful finger-prick tests.

The device is worn on the upper arm and contains sensors that measure blood sugar levels via sweat on the skin’s surface. It transmits the data to a hand-held device, with a digital display of the levels.

A recent small study showed the device measured blood sugar levels as accurately as a standard blood test.

It has been developed for people with diabetes who need to regularly check their blood sugar levels - this may involve between four and 10 finger-prick tests a day. The results help them work out how much medicine they need to control blood sugar levels.

Poor control can lead in the long-term to complications such as cardiovascular and kidney diseases, vision problems, and damage to nerves from excess sugar in the blood.

A number of patches and sensors have been developed to overcome some of the downsides of repetitive injections, but they mostly need blood samples or are made of more than one complicated component. For example, a device called FreeStyle Libre, worn by British Prime Minister Theresa May, is a patch that is worn continuously on the upper arm to monitor glucose levels in fluid between cells - the wearer also needs a separate device to “read” the results.

The new device is only put on when it’s needed. It has sensors to measure sugar levels in sweat, produced constantly by more than 2million glands, even while we’re asleep.

Once on the skin, the device takes about 15 minutes for enough sweat - as little as one millionth of a litre - to measure the blood sugar levels.

The results are automatically analysed and displayed on a handheld device. It is designed to be used at set intervals throughout the day, when patients would usually take a finger-prick test.

Needles

In a very small study where three people’s blood sugar levels were compared before and after a meal, the sweatband was shown to be as effective as a conventional finger-prick blood test. Its developers, based at Seoul National University in South Korea, say tiny needles can be built into it to deliver the correct amount of blood sugar-lowering medication.

Another study showed that up to a third of diabetes cases could be prevented with regular exercise - 44000 people were monitored from 1996 and it was found the risk of diabetes declined with increasing levels of exercise. 

- Daily Mail