Wearable Patch with Graphene Tracks Glucose Levels sans Needles


The interior of the University of Bath / Photo by: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia Commons


Monitoring glucose levels has been a challenge to many people because of the invasive blood test, which is inconvenient and uncomfortable. Researchers at the University of Bath developed a wearable patch for glucose monitoring that is noninvasive and potentially low-cost.

Wearable Patch Tracks Glucose Levels Using Sensors

Noninvasive glucose monitoring is a measurement of blood sugar levels without drawing blood, puncturing the skin or causing pain or discomfort. The development of any device or technology related to this type of glucose measurement started since 1975. And one device called GlucoWatch in 1999 has been approved by Food and Drug Administration. GlucoWatch worked by pulling glucose through the intact skin using electricity, but due to poor performance and reports of users of skin damage, the device has been withdrawn from the market.

Today, the search continues and researchers at the University of Bath may have developed a potential device. The device is a very small wearable patch that contains an array of sensors to collect samples. It collects fluids from cells across hair follicles instead of piercing the skin using a small electric current. 

After collecting a sample, it stores the fluids in tiny reservoirs for measurement. The research team tested it on pig models and the patch showed high accuracy in tracking blood sugar levels without being invasive to the user’s skin. The accuracy demonstrated by the patch was similar to the ranges seen in people with diabetes.

“A non-invasive that is, needle-less method to monitor blood sugar has proven a difficult goal to attain,” said Dr. Richard Guy, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Bath.

For resilience and performance, the researchers used graphene material to enhance the patch’s conductivity, flexibility, and strength. Moreover, the patch has been designed to be compatible with fabrication techniques such as screen printing. The researchers are planning to refine the design to optimize the sensors for 24-hour functionality.