A University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) researcher may be on his way to developing a life-changing nanotechnology to easily monitor blood-glucose levels. According to a recent press release, Dr. Kyungsuk Yum, an Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UTA, received $100,000 financial support from the Texas Medical Research Collaborative grant to develop an internal, nanoscale device that continuously analyses blood level and subsequently transmits the readings to a hand-sized scanner.
Dr. Yum’s technology relies on an injectable, near-infrared optical biosensor nanotube that can read an individual’s blood glucose on a constant basis, and an optical glucose scanner that accesses the data collected by the nanotube.
“Continuous blood glucose monitoring is essential in every diabetic’s life,” explained Dr. Yum. “This device could unlock continuous information vital to a diabetic’s quality of life.” The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 29 million people are currently living with diabetes in the U.S. alone. That’s almost 10% of the total population. The World Health Organization estimates that 371 million people worldwide suffer from this condition. Dr. Yum claims his interest in this research grew when he realized he could help this patient population. “It is a huge societal problem,” stated Dr. Yum. “I believe this nanotube sensing technology has that potential and could potentially provide a better way to manage diabetes and improve the quality of life for people with diabetes.”
Current diabetes monitoring technology offers two options – one, where a tube is inserted through the patient’s abdomen to continuously test glucose levels; or another, a more common method, which requires a finger prick that brings blood to an external glucometer. The first system reads glucose levels in the patient’s tissue, which is not fully accurate and needs daily calibration and weekly maintenance; the second requires quite painful finger pricks throughout the day, every day. Dr. Yum’s work wants to change this scenario.
Dr. Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UTA College of Engineering congratulated Dr. Yum’s work claiming it is representative of the type of biomedical innovation that improves health and the human condition, aligning with one of the core themes of the UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions/Global Impact. “It is compelling work that could improve the way diabetics live every day,” noted Dr. Behbehani. “When research touches lives in such a way, it can dramatically affect the health care of millions of people.”
Dr. Yum joined UTA in 2013 and is also affiliated with the University of Texas and UT Southwestern Medical Center, both in Dallas. Dr. Yum’s research group at UTA is dedicated to the integration of man-made and nature’s micro and nano-scale materials into innovative engineered systems, combining physical sciences and engineering, life sciences and biomedicine at micro and nano-scale.
In 2015, Dr. Yum applied for the Texas Medical Research Collaborative grant – a partnership among universities, healthcare organizations and corporations in the healthcare industry – to start this new project on an internal nanotechnology device to simplify blood sugar testing, collaborating with Dr. A. Dean Sherry, Chemistry Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.