Advances Pave the Way for Better Diabetes Care for All

Achievement date: 

Researchers are making strides toward developing effective implantable sensors to monitor diabetic biomarkers, improving the ability to provide better and more widely available diagnostic tools to help people live healthier lives. These efforts are supported by the NSF-funded Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP) Engineering Research Center (ERC), headquartered at Texas A&M University (TAMU), as part of its mission to change the paradigm for the health of underserved populations.


Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Untreated diabetes can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. In communities with less available healthcare, people may not be diagnosed until it is too late to avoid the consequences. The PATHS-UP sensors aim to provide increased speed, accuracy, and precision in detecting blood glucose levels to prevent, delay the onset of, and manage diabetes. They are also designed to be readily and widely accessible.


“Barcodes” are molecules that provide critical points of reference in medical diagnostics. PATHS-UP researchers tested their polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based barcode sensors and found they survived electron (E)-beam sterilization with no significant change in their phosphorescence response to glucose—both attributes desirable in implantable devices. They also found that the sensors exhibited wide linear glucose response at extremely low oxygen levels, which enhances the accuracy of test results. Another favorable finding was that the E-beam sterilized PEG implants were found to be highly biocompatible after four months in vivo in animals.