Diabetics may have yet another tool in their blood-sugar management arsenal - an implantable, fluorescent blood-sugar monitor. It involves small hydrogel beads that vary the intensity of emitted light depending on glucose concentration. They're called Life Beans.
The system, developed at the University of Tokyo, could lead to implantable blood-glucose monitors, which could enable 24-7 monitoring of a diabetic's blood sugar without having to prick the skin or use an attachable pump.
"Beans" stands for Bioelectrical Mechanical Autonomous Nano Systems.
Researchers tested it in the ears of a mouse and watched as the ear fluoresced at different intensities depending on the mouse's blood sugar.
The researchers think it would be possible to develop devices that manage diabetics' blood sugar without them noticing it.
The main problem is the beads' life span - once they're implanted, the immune system kicks in and attaches proteins to the beads, which effectively dim their light. The next step is engineering a material that resists protein adhesion, the researchers say.
Learn more in this video:
Popular Science is your wormhole to the future. Reporting on what's new and what's next in science and technology, we deliver the future now.