We have seen major advancements in the world of continuous glucose monitors in recent years, including Eversense, the first implantable device. This implanted device is able to monitor blood glucose, as well as alert the person when their levels get too low or high. One issue with implantable devices is how to continuously power them. Excitingly, a new prototype was recently developed that can power itself by using our own glucose.
With implantables being the way of the future, having to remove the device to charge is counterproductive. Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) created this device that is able to directly utilize the energy within our bodies. It is made up of n-type semiconducting polymer along with the enzyme glucose oxidase. When the glucose oxidase detects glucose in its surroundings, it removes electrons and transports them through the connected polymer. The device can detect glucose levels in saliva and likely other bodily fluids, while the same polymer also helps convert glucose and oxygen into electrical power, which runs the device.
While more research is needed to see if this method is practical and safe, so far it has shown to be promising. According to the recent press release,
“This fuel cell is the first demonstration of a completely plastic, enzyme-based electrocatalytic energy generation device operating in physiologically relevant media,” says Sahika Inal, principal investigator of the study. “Glucose sensing and power generation are only two examples of the applications possible when a synthetic polymer communicates effectively with a catalytic enzyme-like glucose oxidase. Our main aim was to show the versatile chemistry and novel applications of this special water-stable, polymer class, which exhibits mixed conduction (ionic and electronic).
Have you considered an implantable device? If insertions were minimal due to this new technology, would it pique your interest?