Finger pricking is yet another unavoidable but monotonously tiring part of any diabetic’s life that also leaves many uncomfortable traces on the skin. However, this method of measuring blood sugar levels could be made obsolete by breath tests following a discovery by the University of Cambridge.
These researchers have found and isolated the chemical isoprene, which is produced by the body when blood sugars are low, and thus could be used to determine a person’s specific level of sugar in their blood through measuring the concentration of isoprene in their breath.
This discovery also provides an explanation for why many dogs can detect sharp drops in blood sugar levels (see my post on ‘Canine Heroes’ for more information about how dogs can help diabetics): unlike humans, they can smell isoprene, which provides an indicator of whether a person is suffering a hypoglycaemic attack or not. In fact, it was the researchers’ ambition to find the chemical that allowed dogs to detect low amounts of sugar in a person that led to them identifying isoprene.
While this development promises diabetics a pain-free method of measuring blood sugar levels, it is likely to require several years to be implemented and does not tackle the core issue of finding a cause or cure for diabetes mellitus.
Source: Painless breath test could replace daily finger prick for diabetics from telegraph.co.uk, by Sarah Knapton