UW researchers working on breath-based diabetes monitor

Needle pricks to check blood sugar levels could be a thing of the past.

A team at the University of Waterloo is developing a new diabetes monitor that can detect glucose levels using breath.

It could be ready as soon as next year, and would link to the user’s phone to give a full readout with nothing but a simple breath.

Nathalia Nascimento is a postdoctoral researcher in the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, and is part of the team developing the new technology through startup, OrientaMED.

She says they are getting the device set for clinical trials.

“We know it will take about six months to do the trials, then another six months to go through the regulatory review process … we’d realistically hope to be able to manufacture the device and start to get it into the world in the next year or so.”

That device is about the size of a cellphone and has a detachable mouthpiece. The gas sensors involved initially used to help identify various diseases through breath before being encouraged to focus on diabetes specifically.

“There are many possible uses for the same technology,” says Nascimento, “So many people are living with diabetes and have to go through an uncomfortable daily routine. Our product is hopefully going to make things a little easier.”

And it’s getting some worldwide attention with support from health-tech companies in the EU and Brazil.

The team has been involved in several startup contests and was recently the winner of the Waterloo-sponsored Concept 5K Challenge

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