By G.P. Thomas
Engineers at the National University of Singapore and Singapore’s Institute of Microeletronics have developed a non-invasive technique to monitor glucose levels. Glucose is vital for the body because cells derive their energy from glucose. But an overdose of glucose could be detrimental as high levels of glucose result in undesirable changes to the inherent structure of a cell.
Typical methods to measure the glucose levels are invasive and slow as it involves cautious handling of the cell culture. The new technique is the result of an ongoing process under controlled conditions where the Engineers have created a polymer comprising fluorescing molecules. When these small droplets are placed in a cell culture, they emit a fluorescent light with intensity proportional to the glucose levels.
Dieter Trau from the Departments of Bioengineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the National University of Singapore stated that they had devised an economical and simple method to not only create the small droplets or micro beads in different sizes but also automate the integration of the microfluidic preparation on a single chip. These microbeads with their capability of detecting glucose levels in the normal functional range can be optically incorporated in cell culture to not just monitor sugar levels but also detect changes brought about by metabolism around the cell environment.