Enzyme-Free Blood Glucose
Enzyme-Free Blood Glucose Monitoring.
The Unique ACuTEGA Technology.
For millions of people with diabetes, self-monitoring of glucose in the blood is, literally, a life saver. Modern, simple-to-use test-strips plugged into compact smart electronic readers can provide accurate measurements of current glucose levels, using just a tiny drop of blood from a finger prick and delivering a result within minutes of starting. These easy tests can be run at home or on the move, and the results guide day-to-day lifestyle choices and improve glucose control.
This state of affairs might appear to be as good as it gets. The existing products do the job perfectly well and the market is mature. Well, perhaps, but look a little more closely and there’s a problem to be solved – high prices, the large (and growing) number of diabetic people globally and the runaway costs of healthcare-providers. To put it simply, the market is crying out for lower cost tests that work as well as the present generation of products. The market is not looking for slightly cheaper tests (like 50% savings) but radically cheaper tests without compromising performance. The market is looking for a technology revolution at a bargain-basement price.
Our Enzyme-Free Glucose Monitoring Research.
It seems like an impossible conundrum, especially as the latest research trends in glucose detection all seem to involve expensive nano-technology and sophisticated materials. This is the context in which Mologic was handed a challenge – a “Mission Impossible” scenario (“Your challenge, should you choose to accept it……...”).
Yes, the challenge was to invent a new ultra-low-cost glucose test working at least as well as the current best on the market, and which can be patented.
We almost chose “not to accept it”! But optimism ruled and the team couldn’t resist a challenge. To cut a long story short, the highly creative but scientifically excellent team indulged in lots of thinking outside the box, looking “over the wall” at other, quite different application areas and revisiting techniques of days-gone-by. And they came up with ACuTEGA – the All Copper Triple Electrode Glucose Assay. The test strip can be manufactured with amazing simplicity while expensive enzymes are discarded and replaced with sodium hydroxide. Not only are the costs of goods exceptionally low but also the electrochemical performance is more robust, with each glucose molecule yielding 6 electrons in contrast to the single electron yielded by the existing method. A disruptive innovation.
But, as with so many good things in life, such benefits are not easily won. The team had to grapple with new problems associated with accurate dosing of miniscule amounts of sodium hydroxide in a rehydratable form, precision construction of tiny capillary chambers and evaluation of performance based on hand-crafted devices. The development process was complicated with significant barriers to the miniaturisation of the technology. But despite these problems, the basic principles are now in place, as shown for example, by glucose tracking in whole blood in correlation with the reference method. The icing on the cake is a strong patent filing to keep competitors out.
As a bonus result from this this project, our talented in-house scientists have now acquired a depth of experience in the design and manufacture of electrode sensors. We have in-house laser-marking/ablating capabilities, and are able to etch or mark a range of materials, from metals to plastics.
We have worked with a number of different metallic surfaces for electrode development, including palladium, gold and copper.
So what next?
Mologic is not a process development/miniaturisation company for electrochemical products, so we need a development/commercialisation partner to take the technology to market-readiness. The final product is to be a simple all-copper triple electrode with a capillary housing of less than 1 microlitre capacity dosed accurately with dry sodium hydroxide. Each electrode is to be individually sealed in foil to exclude moisture and carbon dioxide, packed under dry nitrogen.
It’s not rocket science, but state-of-the-art consumer electronics processing and packing.