We R the Cure

Seeking Cures and Cheating Destiny


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Chance Chat At Work Leads to Blog Revival: Quantum Cascade Laser Tests Blood Sugar Without Finger Pricks

Happy New Year to all my Type 1 diabetes friends and #DOC community. After a long, long blogging vacation … I’m back to writing again thanks to a chance chat with a colleague at work today.

Princeton Researchers Use Lasers to Measure Blood Sugars

Members of the research team test the new laser system. Images courtesy of Frank Wojciechowski/Princeton University.

It was a completely unscripted meeting. As I was in the men’s restroom testing my blood sugar at work, Jonathan walks in, sees me and my bright red blood spot on my test strip. Then he asks: how many times a day did I ” prick my finger” for a blood drop to test my glucose. My normal answer: 8 to 10 times a day. Then I stop myself wondering if we’ve got a connection?

After a few soundbites about testing, insulin pumps, CGMs and all the standard stuff from me — Jonathan pauses and says: “Before I came here I was working in a research group at Princeton that is working to use lasers to accurately measure blood sugar without needing a finger prick,” he said.

Dramatic pause. The sound you heard is my jaw dropping and hitting the bathroom counter. First time I’d ever heard this possibility. The possibility of fewer finger pricks for blood testing is a dream for all of us T1Ds. Wave a magic wand or light beam over your finger and the BG results sync up with my soon-to-be-real Artificial Pancreas closed-loop technology!  Wow, my mind is now racing and I’m back in the blogging game. Here’s the link to the full story. Read it and let me know if you’ve heard of this research?  Together, We R the Cure for Type 1 diabetes and its serious medical complications!!

A team from Princeton University has developed the new technique, which measures blood sugar by directing an IR quantum cascade laser at a person’s palm. The laser light is partially absorbed by sugar molecules in the patient’s body; the amount of absorption is used to measure the level of blood sugar.

According to the researchers, the results indicated that the laser measurement readings produced average errors that were somewhat larger than standard blood sugar monitors, but remained within the clinical requirement for accuracy. In measuring blood glucose levels, readings must be within 20 percent of the patient’s actual blood sugar level. The new system has demonstrated 84 percent accuracy.

“We are working hard to turn engineering solutions into useful tools for people to use in their daily lives,” said Claire Gmachl, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and the project’s senior researcher. “With this work we hope to improve the lives of many diabetes sufferers who depend on frequent blood glucose monitoring.”


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Until There’s a Real Cure For Type 1 Diabetes, the Artificial Pancreas is the Techno-Cure

Graphic of Insulin Pump and CGM

Graphic showing Artificial Pancreas "closed loop" system currently being developed by leading researchers. Photo courtesy of The AP Project

For the 3 million Americans who are living with Type 1 diabetes, the artificial pancreas project represents a Cure. Well, more like a Techno-Cure. AP technologies have the potential to be the most revolutionary treatment since the discovery of insulin 90 years ago! In future posts here, we’re going to exam the AP in detail and some of the basic questions that keep all of us awake at night:

  • How much money will it take to develop these treatments and cures?
  • The human body is a complex machine created by a higher authority than man. Can we ever truly understand autoimmune disorders?
  • Will there ever be a true “cure” for diabetes? Or I am just playing the part of Indiana Jones, traveling on a life-long journey or quest for “The Holy Grail?”

We R the Cure is dedicated to providing information, breaking news and key opinions to this discussion. Want to know more about the AP trials at U.Va? Here’s a comprehensive video from a “patient’s view” of the artificial pancreas project being conducted at the University of Virginia and its peer institutions in the United States and overseas.

As the search continues — amazingly, it’s been 42 years since the JDRF was founded (1970) by parents who were not satisfied with the pace of scientific research — we push for prevention, treatments and technology solutions that will produce tighter glucose control and reduce the serious life-threatening complications. We look healthy on the outside. But we’re dying on the inside. In the coming weeks, we’ll start answering those nagging questions about research dollars and the search for Cures. Your comments and questions are always welcome here!