Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Graphene smart patch for monitoring diabetes could save lives

A team in South Korea is inventing a wearable device that will help to keep diabetes under control and will eliminate the everyday finger prick.  This graphene smart patch will be worn around the wrist, and can sense when blood sugar is either too high or too low through sweat. In response, the wires connected to the “portable electrochemical analyser”(New Scientist) will release the right amount of chemicals into the body when needed.
(CBS News)
There are three points I’d like to emphasize in this article. For starters, the article states that “When the device is worn, the microneedles pierce the skin, reaching the subcutaneous tissue”(New Scientist) and goes on to say that at this level, the microneedles are too small to cause pain. I think this is important because I feel as if lot of new technologies might overlook the idea of pain and would just think on the level of how effective the product is. So the fact that pain level is taken into account is very significant.

Another thing I’d like to point out is that “One problem is that the doses of drug needed in humans are too big to be delivered by the patch”(New Scientist). With this being said, will the patch even work? It is concerning to me that if the medicine cannot be delivered, the patch will be useless or not as effective as necessary.

Thirdly, I find it important that “It was also tested on two healthy men, showing that its glucose measurements are accurate and correlate well with blood concentrations”(New Scientist). This is useful information because it shows that the device works on all people, and keeps their blood at a healthy level--not just those affected with diabetes. And it shows that the device does not affect people with healthy blood concentrations negatively either.

However, there are a few items I believe were overlooked in this article. Firstly, it is not mentioned anywhere in the article whether or not the patch is waterproof, or able to be slept in. This could be a major concern for people depending on using and wearing this device everyday. Secondly, the article provides the information that more “than 300 million people around the world have type 2 diabetes”(New Scientist), however this does not address the other millions of people who have type 1 diabetes. As a result, this graphene smart patch might not be as useful as scientists are hoping. And finally, no ages were mentioned in this article, and it makes me wonder at what age they will start to implement these smart patches and at what age they are safe to be used. This could be a concern for many people and might reduce the number of smart patches in circulation if this is not researched further.

With all of this being said, I believe that with some more research and trial and error, this smart patch could really save lives.



  1. I found this blog to be interesting especially because I have a brother who is a Type 1 diabetic and have grown up seeing how diabetes and monitoring his glucose levels has affected his every day life. My biggest concern is the already, preexisting devices that can already do this for you. There are wearable devices that continuously monitor your glucose levels and send you alerts if your levels are too high or too low so that you can adjust them properly. Another concern is the location of the band. Many diabetics are concerned with people seeing their wearable technology that monitors their blood levels. With the band being attached to your wrist, it is very tough to cover which could result in less people wearing it. I like how you mentioned that the article needs to address if it is waterproof or if it is safe to sleep with. This is concerning because the most crucial times for a diabetic to monitor their glucose levels are when they are active and when they are sleeping. Overall, I think it is a good idea, but I don't see this device as revolutionary because there are already methods to monitor glucose levels for diabetics that do not involve a wrist band being worn. Like you mentioned in the article, if the band doesn't have the capability to provide enough insulin in some cases which they addressed as a potential problem, there would be no need to wear the device.

  2. Hey Bailey! I love hearing news about new technologies involving science, and medicine. This device seems like an amazing product that could improve millions of lives. People with diabetes are forced to live a monitored, and interrupted life. At any moment of the day they may have to check their blood levels which can be a real disadvantage. One of the best features of this gadget is that it does not cause pain or bleeding. This is a huge advancement for the diabetic world, and I’m very interested to see where it goes. I am also curious of the product in many ways. Are they any trials occurring now? How will this hep the medical society? I think a great feature would be the addition of data collection. The bracelet could record trends in your blood pressure in respect to time of day, activity levels, etc. This data could then be used for research possibilities, and could further move the diabetic community towards a cure. Im excited to see where this product goes!

  3. Hey Bailey,
    I found this article and this new IT to be very interesting! One of the ideas you talked about stood out to me. A lot of times with medical technology, it is about how well the device does its job. With this device, it works well but also counts for the pain of the patient. Not only do they avoid the everyday finger prick, but the device causes no pain, and makes the disease easier to manage. Another part that I would like to comment on is that not only is it useful for diabetes, but for people with normally low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. It can regulate all types of people's blood sugar easily and effectively. One question I had was how durable the patch was. From the picture, it looks kind of delicate, so could the patch be worn at all times and stay intact? This would be interesting to find out.

  4. Although the graphene smart patch is a great idea and will make life much easier for patients with Type 2 diabetes, this product has not been tested or used by diabetic patients, and there is no proof that it actually works. Like Bailey said, we do not know if the patch is waterproof or if you can sleep in it. There is no information stating that it works with patients with Type 1 diabetes, or if it is safe for children.

    I agree with Bailey in that it is exciting that this product would significantly decrease the pain level of diabetic patients. It has the potential to work well while also decreasing the amount of pain for the patient because the microneedles in the patch are too small to cause pain. They avoid the daily insulin finger prick, and the patch will insert the insulin automatically. If this product goes through testing it could potentially make living with diabetes much more manageable for patients.

    I am anxious to see if this patch goes through testing and is successful. I think that it is a great idea and could really help people; it just needs some more research.


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