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NHS diabetic gizmo will text for help if wearer is in danger

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Scientists from Swansea University are collaborating with a consortium of Welsh technology companies to develop a blood glucose-monitoring sensor that can transmit readings to the mobile phones of NHS staff.

The university's Centre for Nanohealth and its e-Health Industries Innovation Centre are working on a project to develop a low-cost, non-invasive, ambulatory and continuous monitoring system using novel sensors and mobile networks. The project is backed by £470,000 from the Welsh Government's EU-funded Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme.

It involves the development of a device to provide continuous blood glucose measurement using a nanowires biosensor, unlike the commonly used "finger-stick" glucose meter, which requires patients to carry out up to 10 tests a day.

Nanotechnology and wireless technology will be used to transmit readings from the sensor to the mobile phones of NHS clinical teams. It will also provide an emergency alert to next of kin or medical personnel if the patient is suffering from a hypoglycemic attack.

Dr Vincent Teng, the nanoelectronics expert from Swansea University's College of Engineering who is leading the project, said the device could significantly improve the quality of life of diabetic patients and their families.

"Diabetic patients with low blood glucose can become unconscious due to hypoglycaemia and there are many reported incidents where patients, who either live or work alone, fainted without the notice of others and such occurrence can often be fatal," he said.

"Therefore, a multi-functional monitoring system is important to manage the glucose level of diabetic patients and to provide a warning when the patient is unconscious."

The Welsh government said the prototype is to be developed over the next 30 months and will be taken to market by the industry consortium.

The monitoring system will be able to be adapted for other chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and asthma.

This article was originally published at Guardian Professional. Join the Guardian Healthcare Network to receive regular emails on NHS innovation.

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