There are 1.3 million people living with diabetes in Australia. Globally this is predicted to reach 1.3 billion people by 2050. Testing blood glucose can involve pain and expense. The regime of testing frequently can be particularly difficult for children and their carers.
The University of Newcastle’s Professor Paul Dastoor wondered if he could develop a better way for sufferers of diabetes. Professor Dastoor is renowned for inventions like solar paint and printable solar panels so, against that background, he and his team have developed a printable saliva-based glucose biosensor.
The breakthrough could revolutionise diabetes management. The sensor is a hundred times more sensitive than traditional blood sensors, using carbon-based organic materials and requires the user to simply lick a chewing-gum stick device. The senor device can be printed, not on 3D printers, but on those not dissimilar to the humble home printer – just not on paper and with the team’s proprietary high performance electronic inks.
The biosensor, adaptable to various diseases, is being commercialised for widespread use, with collaborations including the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University for a COVID-19 sensor.
Professor Dastoor envisions a fundamental shift in disease management, empowering individuals to monitor their health with ease.
Finalists - Professor Paul Dastoor, Dr Daniel Elkington, Dr Nathan Cooling, Dr Pankaj Kumar, Dr Swee Lu Lim
"There’s always a reluctance to test and give insulin injections, knowing you have to cause your child pain and upset them. As a parent you’re hardwired to do the opposite. For anyone with diabetes, it’s a painful reality you face multiple times a day for the rest of your life. There are no days off. It’s always there. It’s huge. Diabetes is a relentless disease. Anything that can reduce pain and make life feel more ‘normal’ will have an enormous impact on people living with the condition”.
Mother to a juvenile daughter with type one diabetes
"That would be marvelous if we could get that, especially for children. If you've got a little child with diabetes, I just can't imagine how much people's lives would change.
Type two diabetic
"This sounds like a great way to test blood glucose levels, particularly for people at work or even children at school where printers may be more readily available. I’ll be one of the first in line for it. I'm yet to hear of someone who enjoys pricking their fingers to check their levels.”
Diabetes NSW Ambassador