Mexican scientists roll out toilet-based glucose monitoring device

Scientists at Mexico's Technological Institute of Chihuahua are rolling out a glucose-monitoring device, Glucosalarm, that attaches to the toilet to give results.--Courtesy of the Technological Institute of Chihuahua

As researchers explore innovative tools for diabetes monitoring, scientists in Mexico are developing a smartphone-based device that can measure glucose in the blood by analyzing urine in the toilet.

Two scientists at the Technological Institute of Chihuahua are rolling out a tool, Glucosalarm, which runs through a smartphone and records daily values of glucose by attaching to the toilet bowl. Patients activate the device's sensor through Bluetooth on a smartphone. After urinating, a few drops are deposited on a collector and mixed with enzymes that react with the glucose, producing a color compound. The sensor then measures the intensity of the color and calculates glucose concentrations, sending results back to a phone in less than a minute, the device's creator, Carlos Bernal, said in a statement.

Glucosalarm could offer an advantage over current screening methods, many of which rely on needles to collect glucose readings. The device eschews the need for more invasive technology and also sends alerts to family, physicians, and in some cases, an emergency number if the result is too high, allowing for more comprehensive monitoring.

The device could also cut down on costs. A glucometer costs less than $30 but costs can add up, with test trips, needles and needle holders requiring patients to shell out extra money, Bernal said. "Glucosalarm will cost approximately $120 to $140, and the readings will cost less than a penny per measurement," he said, a potential selling point to not only patients but payers seeking out low-cost devices.

Glucosalarm has already caught the eye of two medical device companies with an international presence, Bernal said. But before anyone signs on to the technology, scientists need to put finishing touches on the device. The team is testing a third prototype of the tool in patients and has a patent for the technology in the U.S. and Mexico. If everything goes accordingly, Glucosalarm will be released in the U.S. and Mexico in late 2016 and early 2017, respectively.

- read the statement

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