A grant of $49,525 from WRF is helping University of Washington researcher Dr. Kristen Helton to develop a new generation of implantable biosensors to monitor glucose levels in diabetes patients.
Dr. Helton’s technology places sensors in porous hydrogel scaffolds developed in the lab of Dr. Buddy Ratner. These scaffolds have been successful as tissue engineering constructs, as they vascularize following implantation, assist with tissue regeneration and reduce the risk of rejection.
This presents a novel approach to circumventing the body’s assault on implants by using a tissue-integrating scaffold as the sensor itself. Devoid of electronics, it consists instead of glucose-sensitive nanospheres embedded in a hydrogel with similar properties to those of the surrounding tissue. These nanospheres emit a fluorescent signal indicating glucose concentration, readable through the skin using a comfortable and discrete thin-film patch.
This should offer a system of monitoring that is more accurate and stable than is currently possible, with clinical translation of this technology enabling diabetic patients to more tightly control their glucose levels.