seal  Purdue News

October 28, 2003

Research Park company develops diabetes sensor for continuous monitoring

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Vista Biosciences LLC, a startup company located in the Purdue Research Park, has reached a milestone in the development of technology that can continuously monitor glucose levels without painful finger pricks and alert diabetics exactly when to inject insulin.

Purdue Research Foundation pre-seed capital and a two-year, $1 million grant from the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund enabled the research conducted by Purdue University and the company to create a new class of monitors and, eventually, wearable devices to help diabetics track their need for insulin.

Sensor could aid diabetics
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Following the successful completion of the preclinical human trials, the company is seeking a strategic partner who can take the lead in creating the wearable version and moving the technology through the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

A critical component of the system is a new technology that uses a proprietary sensor to detect glucose molecules by shining light in a specific range, called mid-infrared radiation, through clear interstitial fluid extracted from under a person's skin.

"When used to analyze interstitial fluid from four people, the new sensor was shown to be as accurate as the best laboratory equipment now in use," said Jay Gore, Purdue's associate dean of engineering for research and entrepreneurship, and co-founder of Vista Biosciences.

"The mid-infrared spectrum is the most ideal optical range for glucose measurement, but it can not be harnessed until we utilize a system capable of drawing samples of extremely thin interstitial fluid through a monitor's windows," Gore said. "If fluid in the sample were too thick, it would absorb most of the mid-infrared light and not enough of the radiation would reach through to the sensor.

"This approach represents a whole new concept in diabetes treatment."

People who suffer from diabetes currently have to prick their fingers and then test samples of their blood using chemical strips. Ideally, however, the concentration of glucose in a person's blood should be monitored continuously to avoid peaks and valleys in blood sugar that can cause organ damage. Continuous monitoring would be especially beneficial overnight because glucose levels tend to fluctuate while a person is sleeping, he said.

Dr. Rattan Juneja, chief of endocrinology at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis and medical director of the Indiana University Diabetes Center, said the results of the experiment are encouraging.

"Real-time, continuous glucose monitoring and reduced invasiveness of testing are twin unmet needs targeted by almost all new developments in the field of diabetes," said Dr. Juneja. "The results have demonstrated the potential of a system that would be attractive for diabetes management in hospital patients as well as the millions of mobile diabetics."

Dr. Juneja is a member of the scientific advisory board for Vista Biosciences.

Researchers at Vista Biosciences plan to incorporate the proprietary sensor technology into a system that uses a hair-thin probe placed just under the skin to extract the fluid rising from a person's capillaries. The fluid would be drawn into a cell phone-sized device worn on the belt to continuously monitor the glucose level, alerting the person when insulin is needed. Once drawn into the device, the fluid would pass in front of a window so that it could be exposed to mid-infrared light.

Once clinical trials are conducted, the new system could be commercially available in about two years, said Arvind Korde, chairman and chief operating officer of Vista Biosciences.

Researchers also are working on other improvements.

The system currently is about the size of a shoebox, but further miniaturization is under way, said Anjan Mehta, Vista's COO. "We have solved the major problem of how you can measure glucose with high specificity and precision," Mehta said. "Other interstitial fluid-based technologies being developed require patients to prick their finger to calibrate the system's meter. We are aiming for universal calibration, which would eliminate finger pricks altogether."

Purdue Research Park encompasses 591 acres in West Lafayette, Ind., and is home to the largest university-affiliated, state-of-the-art business incubator facility in the nation. Within the park, 104 businesses, of which 58 are high-tech, employ more than 2,200 people.

Writers: Jeanine Phipps, (765) 494-0748,

Sources: Jay Gore, (765) 494-1452,

Arvind Korde, (586) 530-1542,

Anjan Mehta, (978) 94-5050,

Rattan Juneja, (317) 278-4921,


Related Web sites:

Diabetes Technology Society:


Kislaya Kunjan, lead engineer with Vista Biosciences LLC, works on a sensor system developed jointly with Purdue University researchers that detects glucose molecules by shining light in a specific range called mid-infrared radiation, through clear interstitial fluid extracted from under a person's skin. This technology may spawn a new class of hospital bedside monitors (shown) as well as wearable devices to continuously monitor glucose for people with diabetes, eliminating painful finger pricks and alerting a person when it is time to inject insulin.

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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