Dist Prof Chase & team working on low cost pain-free diabetes device under SfTI Challenge

04 September 2018

The glucose measuring device will help in reducing specialist doctor visits, improve blood sugar levels and encourage continuous treatment for Type II diabetes patients.

Geoff Chase_glucose measuring device

Professor Geoff Shaw, Dept of Intensive Care Christchurch Hospital and University of Otago Christchurch.

Our department’s Dist Prof Geoff Chase is currently working on a first of its kind low cost prototype device to draw fluid and sense the user’s glucose level. It can also be used to deliver insulin for treatment. Prof Chase works in collaboration with researchers from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, Prof Geoff Shaw, and Master’s and PhD students Sophie Bekisz and Lui Holder Pearson respectively.  

The research is part of the National Science Challenge on Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) and also includes researchers from the University of Otago Christchurch School of Medicine and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB).

The technology is targeted towards Type II Diabetes patients to reduce specialist doctor visits, improve blood sugar levels, and encourage better compliance to care. Currently, blood glucose level testing and injections are often found to be uncomfortable and irritating, leading to low compliance and poorer long term outcomes. This device is currently being tested on healthy volunteers and makes a tiny puncture in the skin without the discomfort of needles. It will combine the injector, sensor and dosing technologies.

Prof Chase’s team is also working with clinicians at Christchurch Hospital and the CDHB on reducing the cost of the insulin pump to a target of $500 to $2,000 from the regular $10,000 it costs before government subsidy. They are keen to make the design open access so that patients receive first line treatment earlier and at far lower cost, reducing the economic burden on patients and the health system.

The bioengineering and mechatronics streams, where students from all levels (from undergraduates to postgraduates) are engaged in this research at UC, are attracting more and more future students as a realistic way to change the world through advanced medical devices.

The media’s interest has also been piqued: https://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/article/print-archive/engineering-wizards-push-limits-device-design-diabetes-patient-care (subscription needed).

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