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Rewriting Life

Long-Term Glucose Monitoring

Implanted devices measure blood sugar continuously for many months.

Source:Function of an implanted tissue glucose sensor for more than 1 year in animals” David A. Gough et al.
Science Translational Medicine
2(42): 42ra53

Measuring sugar: This small implantable device is durable enough to accurately measure glucose in tissue for well over a year.

Results: A small device implanted under the skin accurately measured glucose levels in pigs for almost two years.

This story is part of our November/December 2010 Issue
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Why it matters: Continuously measuring glucose levels can help diabetics control blood sugar to improve their long-term health. Existing devices for continuous monitoring, which are stuck into the skin rather than fully implanted, have a sensor that must be replaced every few days.

Methods: Like existing continuous-monitoring devices and traditional finger-stick tests, the new implanted monitor uses an enzyme called glucose oxidase to measure glucose levels. When those levels are high, the enzyme facilitates a reaction that consumes oxygen, a change detected by a neighboring oxygen sensor.

Next steps: Scientists plan to file for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin human tests. Eventually, they aim to couple this kind of device with one that would automatically deliver insulin in response to changing blood-sugar levels.

Assessing Brain Injury

A portable EEG device shows that neural effects of concussion outlast obvious symptoms.

Source:Acute effects and recovery after sport-related concussion: a neurocognitive and quantitative brain electrical activity study” Michael McCrea et al.
Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
25(4): 283-292

Results: By monitoring football players after blows to the head, scientists found that abnormal electrical activity in the brain persists even after outwardly visible symptoms of the trauma, such as memory or balance problems, have ceased to be detected. Abnormal activity was still present a week after injury but resolved after 45 days.

Why it matters: Concussions are currently diagnosed on the basis of symptoms such as nausea and headache, as well as through cognitive and neurological tests. However, more detailed and objective measures are needed to help determine the extent of the injury and to judge when the brain has fully healed. Many scientists and physicians think a blow to the head while the brain is still recovering from an earlier blow might significantly worsen damage, especially in the long term. In recent years, a number of professional football players with a history of head trauma have been found at autopsy to have serious brain damage.

Methods: The researchers used a portable EEG device developed by ­BrainScope to determine baseline brain activity at the start of the season for nearly 400 high-school and college football players. Twenty-eight of those players sustained a concussion during the study period. Their brain activity was measured right after the incident and measured again eight days and then 45 days later.

Next steps: BrainScope is using the device to study brain injury in military personnel and emergency-room patients.

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