Engineers design a cheap sensor for diabetes and cancer


A group of engineers at the University of Florida used technology employed to mass manufacture cell phones and other devices to make a small sensor that could be used to monitor a person's health, flagging changes in glucose levels or checking for signs of breast cancer.

"This uses known manufacturing technology that is already out there," says Fan Ren, a professor of chemical engineering and one of a team of engineers collaborating on the project.

Producing cheap, readily used sensors is one of the Holy Grails of medical science. The University of Florida's device tests a person's breath, contradicting the assumption that glucose levels in breath were too minute to test.

"Instead of poking your finger to get the blood, you can just breathe into it and measure the glucose in the breath condensate," Ren says. And they're exploring new ways to have the information transferred wirelessly to cell phones or computers.