In the backdrop of CSIR developing a low-cost diabetes drug, scientists at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, claim to have developed a low-cost glucometer kit to check blood-glucose levels. The new glucometer and its strips cost just about a quarter of the leading glucometer brands. Prof. V.Venkataraman, and Dr. Venkatesh N.Seshadri, of the Department of Physics, IISc are the developers of this indigeneous glucometer kit. They hope that their innovation can bring impact to the society & common man, especially at bottom of pyramid at a affordable way to reach millions, who are suffering the detrimental effects of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) and hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose).
Diabetes is the most prevalent disease in India with an estimated 65 million people in the country being diabetic – the highest in the world. This number is expected to cross 100 million in the next 10-15 years. Lifestyle changes and regular monitoring of the blood glucose levels could reduce life-threatening complications arising from diabetes. However, glucometers to detect blood glucose levels are expensive and unaffordable for many, thus hampering regular monitoring. An affordable device is the need of the hour.
The new “Visual Blood Gluco Dot” and the “Smart Bio Check kit” developed by the team consists of a novel biochemical assay strip. Each strip is made of thick, disposable, laminated paper material and consists of two parts - a sample window and a result window. The blood sample is placed on the sample window and the result appears on the result window. The strip has two membranes. The first membrane separates the blood from the plasma. In the second membrane, blood reacts with the smeared chemicals to produce a colour change. The change in colour in the result window can be read visually using a colour chart for semiquantitative results (in the case of Visual Blood Gluco Dot) or with a Smartphone for quantitative results (with the Smart Bio Check Kit).
Storing these strips at room temperature for a longer duration especially at Indian climatic conditions is said to a challenge. The Substrate and enzymes used in the strip’s membranes are susceptible to varying humidity and temperature. According to them “The main challenge was to stabilize these components to achieve long term room temperature storage of the strip and also perform efficiently. With our novel formulation & process, the glucose strips made using this can be stored for minimum duration of 12 months, and also frequent opening and closing of strip vials during testing does not affect the strip performance.
The ability to use a Smartphone to analyse/read the colour change in a strip is said to be a remarkable breakthrough. “Once the results are read/analysed using the smartphone App, it can be uploaded on to various cloud platforms over the internet. This would allow doctors and researchers to analyze the blood sample in real time. This smartphone based blood glucose biosensing technology is not yet available in the country, which makes this the first of its kind” according to them.
The Visual Blood Gluco Dot has been field validated by different healthcare NGOs as well as diagnostic lab for its performance efficiency and robustness on over 700 patient samples. The results were found to be on par with the commercially available glucometers. This innovation can make diabetic healthcare affordable in the country and help in first-hand diagnostics.
About the Developers:
Prof. V. Venkataraman is a Professor and Chairman at the Department of Physics at IISc.
Dr. Venkatesh Nagamangalam .Seshadri is a Member of Technical Staff at the RBCCPS, IISc.