National Physical Laboratory

Non-invasive blood sugar measurement

Improved mathematical modelling enhances innovative glucose level meter.

An eye for measurement
Artist's impression of the portable glucose meter

The Challenge

Diabetes has an enormous impact on individuals and society, with over 230 million people affected worldwide. In the UK almost 10% of our healthcare budget is spent on treating the effects of diabetes. Key to the effective management of the condition is the measurement and control of the level of glucose in the blood. The most widely used method for measuring blood glucose level, which involves taking a blood sample from the finger, is inconvenient, painful and does not give results of a satisfactory accuracy. A more accurate and more convenient method is highly desirable.

Lein Applied Diagnostics is a start-up SME that has developed, with support from a DTI SMART award, patented technology for non-invasively measuring blood glucose levels based on scanning a light beam through the anterior chamber of the eye. The SME has built a prototype instrument to undertake the measurement. However, when tested on real patients it became clear that there were gaps in Lein's fundamental mathematical understanding of the measurement results.

The Solution

NPL's Peter Harris, who has many years experience in mathematical modelling, was seconded to the SME to develop a model of the glucose meter. By combining his skills with those of Professor Tony Wilson of Oxford University, an expert in the confocal measurement process used by Lein, Peter was able to make rapid progress.

The Impact

The results of the work have enabled a better understanding of the interactions between the instrument and the subject, critical to the correct operation of the instrument.

With increased confidence in the operation of their instrument Lein are now looking to optimise the design of the glucose meter. The aim is to build a portable instrument, about the same size and weight as a mobile phone, suitable for everyday personal use.

"Without the support of the secondment of Peter Harris, Lein would not have been able to advance so quickly in the development of its glucose meter."
Dan Daly, Director, Lein Applied Diagnostics

Find out more about NPL's research in Modelling

Last Updated: 7 Jan 2013
Created: 13 Aug 2010


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