American University of Beirut

AUB’s non-invasive blood-glucose monitor (eDiamond) wins international approval

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa​​, ​Office of Communications, communications​​

It has now become possible for people to wear a gadget that gives a continuous, immediate reading of the level of sugar in one's blood through a highly sensitive, accurate, non-invasive technique. A first-of-its-kind research has been published this month in the prestigious and high impact journal Science Advances.

A global concern addressed

The occurrence of diabetes is projected to reach 700 million cases worldwide by 2045, having reached 463 million patients in 2019, according to the World Health Organization's latest fact sheet. The global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age has risen to around 10 percent, while it sits at 13 percent in Lebanon.

With existing glucose devices so far relying on invasive or minimally invasive methods, an easy and practical glucose monitoring device was due. The AUB team worked to produce the first-of-its-kind, painless, needle-free method with continuous glycemic monitoring sensors: a highly sensitive multi-sensor system, or set of wearable accessories, that can be integrated smoothly into daily attire.

Under the leadership of  professors from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at AUB's Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture ​(MSFEA) and the Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology, and Physiological Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine (FM), Joseph Costantine, Rouwaida Kanj, Assaad Eid, and Youssef Tawk—the all-AUB research team includes PhD student in the biomedical engineering program and the lead student on this project Jessica Hanna, accompanied by MSFEA's research associate Dr. Ali Ramadan, PhD alumna Fatima Asadallah, masters of engineering alumni and research assistants Moussa Bteich and Aline Eid, and FM's PhD student Batoul Dia.​

An innovative technique

The researchers creating a prototype that includes sensors in a glove and an armband. The sensors were designed to mirror the blood vessel anatomy in the hand and arm, which allowed alignment of the sensors with the blood vessels, improving the sensitivity of the device. The result: eDiamond: The Electromagnetic Diabetes Monitoring Device.

“Wireless electromagnetic waves propagate through the human tissue to reach the bloodstream," explained Dr. Costantine. “If the composition of the blood changes due to variation in glucose levels, then the wave characteristics are altered. Accordingly, the response of our radiofrequency-based sensors map that alteration to indicate the change in the glucose levels, hence tracking its variation."

Dr. Kanj added that the glucose fluctuations in the medium under test are associated with changes in magnitude and phase shifts within the reflected and/or transmitted waves. These characteristics are then processed and converted into glucose levels by means of data analytics and smart algorithms.

The proposed sensors have been validated on serum, animal tissues, animal models of diabetes, and in a clinical setting. Twenty-one volunteers were monitored through the device as they underwent three separate oral glucose tolerance tests. Thanks to novel vasculature-anatomy-inspired tunable electromagnetic topologies, the results in human trials have reported high correlation (>0.9) between the system's physical parameters and blood glucose levels, all accurate and real-time responses.

“Checking your glucose level has become as simple as checking your phone," announced Costantine in an interview with Medscape, one of numerous international entities whose attention this research almost immediately attracted.

This project was initially funded by UK Lebanon Tech Hub and has secured three patents. Designed for easy, better, and more comfortable diabetes management, the eDiamond project is in the process of becoming a startup, seeking funding for next stages, including optimizing further the network of sensors and completing clinical trials at AUB, in collaboration with university hospitals in the UK and the USA. The new prototype will be created in different sizes.

“Timeliness is a [key] factor," said Dr. Eid. “The device will estimate the level of glucose in a continuous manner, and the data will be conveyed to an electronic web registry that will be used to trigger insulin injections. Furthermore, the wearable device will be adapted to suit different age groups." The wearable apparels wirelessly sense hypo- to hyper-glycemic variations with high fidelity and are designed to target simultaneously multiple body locations. This allows for a possible development of a closed-loop artificial pancreas.

“eDiamond stands beyond being a typical glucose monitoring device," said Dr. Tawk. “It is a set of wearable accessories that can be integrated smoothly into the daily attire and monitor continuously the glucose variation for enhancing the diabetic patient's quality of life. It is simple, easy to use, and the sensor design can be adjusted to the patient's needs. For example, a glove and an arm-band can be used by a sports-person, a sock by a child, and a necklace by an adult in an outing."  

The Electromagnetic Diabetes Monitoring Device comes to tackle a core concern in human wellbeing today. A project that had started as a concept in 2014, brings solutions to many worldwide who have to monitor this global public health issue. A child that needs to regularly monitor blood sugar can now easily wear a special sock instead of having a toe or finger pricked. An all-AUB collaboration delivered once again world-caliber high impact research that will contribute to the betterment of lives. 

“eDiamond alleviates the pain of diabetic patients, it improves the quality of life of millions of patients worldwide and  impacts every family," Dr. Costantine told us. “We are very excited and proud of where this project has reached. One major aspect we took into consideration from the beginning was a human-centered approach in the design and conceptualization; eDiamond puts the individual's comfort and preference first. This feature, in my opinion, makes the biggest difference in the world."

For article published in Science Advances journal:​a5320/tab-article-info

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