Foot Ulcer Prevention with Pressure-Monitoring Socks for Diabetics
A team of scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem is creating pressure-monitoring socks, dubbed SenseGo, to detect and alert the wearer when too much pressure is exerted on an area. This wearable technology is being designed with diabetics in mind to prevent foot ulcers from occurring.
The socks are machine washable and contain several micro-fabricated pressure sensors that are connected to a microprocessor—a mini-computer with its own central processing unit (CPU) that accepts digital data and releases processed information from a set of preprogrammed parameters stored in its memory. When the sensors detect tremendous pressure applied in a single region, the wearer receives an alert on their smartphone through an app, which also indicates the area of the foot where the immense pressure was detected so the user can change posture, change into better-fitting shoes, or otherwise deal with the situation to alleviate the pressure.
Due to constant spikes in blood glucose levels, diabetics are at increased risk of neuropathy—damage to the nerves—that increases their likelihood of losing sensation in their feet and toes. As a result, excessive pressure may be exerted in one region of the foot, in which prolonged pressure degrades the skin’s integrity, forming ulcers.
Diabetics need to have their feet checked regularly and wear special support shoes to help balance out the pressure. With pressure-monitoring socks to supplement any foot care, the wearer is alerted before any ulcer formation occurs, saving time and resources that would be allotted to treating the ulcer.
There is no release date for SenseGo socks but researchers are currently working on the final version for market release.
Oral Insulin Patch for Diabetes Sufferers on the Horizon
For several years, scientists have been experimenting with oral insulin delivery mechanisms, including the use of liposomes, to shield insulin from being destroyed by gastrointestinal (GI) secretions customarily used to break down food particles into items our body can extract energy from. Hence, subcutaneous injections are thus far the only effective delivery system of the hormone to keep blood glucose levels within normal parameters in diabetics. Contributing to the efforts of creating a needleless insulin delivery system, scientists at University of California, Santa Barbara have developed an oral insulin patch made from mucoadhesive polymers, to help stick to the intestinal wall lining, in addition to being treated with an intestinal permeation enhancer, for better absorption and exposure to the bloodstream, to be encapsulated into a pill with an enteric coating to withstand the corrosive environment of the GI tract.
Once swallowed, the patch is designed to be released from the pill at a designated time and expected to attach to the intestinal wall for superior insulin delivery into the bloodstream. When patch adhesiveness was tested after 30 minutes upon being attached, stickiness was found to be “excellent” based on the force required to pull off the patch. Release of drug was tested on pig and rat intestines, in which 100 percent of the insulin and permeation enhancer was disseminated within five hours.
In animal studies, the scientists found insulin patches with 10 percent permeation enhancers to be the most effective than control groups, dropping blood glucose levels to 70 percent of normal levels.
Studies are ongoing to discover ways to deliver insulin faster as well as prolong the effects of the patch. For diabetic sufferers who cannot rely on oral medications to control their blood sugar levels, an oral insulin patch may be just the ticket to forgoing the daily prick.