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Release: Dec. 3, 2002

Research team gets $2.5 million grant to develop glucose monitor

A multidisciplinary research team at the University of Iowa Optical Science and Technology Center (OSTC) has received a four-year, $2,564,658 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to develop a novel blood glucose sensor for the management of diabetes.

Mark A. Arnold, (left) professor of chemistry in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and OSTC director, says that the objective of the interdisciplinary research program is to develop a glucose monitor that examines a small volume of interstitial fluid continuously extracted from under the skin. The glucose concentration of the fluid will be measured noninvasively with a chip-based, near infrared spectrometer.

Arnold, who has been working on noninvasive, blood glucose monitoring devices for more than 14 years, hopes to replace the current monitoring procedure, consisting of numerous finger sticks and test-strip glucose meters, with a beam of light to provide information on blood glucose concentrations. The OSTC project, being conducted in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories building, will develop new materials to detect the specific wavelengths of light absorbed by glucose.

A successful continuous glucose monitor would provide more glucose information than is possible with conventional test-strip technology. More frequent testing, in turn, would allow greater control of blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the long-term medical complications caused by chronic hyperglycemia while avoiding dangerous hypoglycemic conditions.

"An exciting feature of this project is the collaboration of 10 different research groups from multiple colleges on campus," Arnold says. In addition to Arnold, researchers include the following professors: John Prineas and Michael Flatté of the department of physics and astronomy and Thomas Boggess of physics and astronomy and the UI College of Engineering department of electrical and computer engineering; David Andersen of the department of electrical and computer engineering; William Sivitz of the UI Carver College of Medicine department of internal medicine; Scott Martin of the department of chemistry; and Chris Coretsopoulos of the department of chemistry. Also, Gary Small of the Ohio University department of chemistry and biochemistry; and Linda Olafsen of the University of Kansas department of physics and astronomy are members of the research team.

Arnold adds that interdisciplinary work is necessary because, "Success demands advances in novel semiconductor materials, photoelectronic devices, microfluidics and chip fabrication, system controller electronics, and computer-based data processing algorithms."