Bioengineers Make Diabetes Monitor More Versatile, Durable

Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the fall 2017 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.

Researchers in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science are getting more out of the sweat they’ve put into their work on a wearable diagnostic tool that measures three diabetes-related compounds in microscopic amounts of perspiration.

“Type 2 diabetes affects so many people. If you have to manage and regulate this chronic problem, these markers are the levers that will help you do that,” said Dr. Shalini Prasad, Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor in Systems Biology Science and professor of bioengineering. “We believe we’ve created the first diagnostic wearable that can monitor these compounds for up to a week, which goes beyond the type of single-use monitors that are on the market today.”

In a study published in Nature Scientific Reports, Prasad and lead author Rujuta Munje PhD’16, a bioengineering graduate, describe their wearable diagnostic biosensor that can detect three interconnected compounds — cortisol, glucose and interleukin-6 — in perspired sweat for up to a week without loss of signal integrity.

“It’s not enough to detect just one thing. Measuring multiple molecules in a combinatorial manner and tracking them over time allows us to tell a story about your health,” said Prasad.