(Seattle, WA) -- The University of Washington and UW Medicine say their researchers may have discovered an easy way to head off prediabetes. The medical research team reports they've developed a new system that uses a smartphone's touch-sensing capabilities to read blood-glucose levels without using a separate reader

Right now, current screening methods normally involve a visit to a healthcare facility for lab testing and/or the use of a portable glucometer for at-home testing. Both cost and access are barriers to more widespread screening.

"One of the barriers I see in my clinical practice is that many patients can't afford to test themselves, as glucometers and their test strips are too expensive. And it's usually the people who most need their glucose tested who face the biggest barriers," said co-author Dr. Matthew Thompson, a professor of family medicine at the UW School of Medicine. "Given how many of my patients use smartphones now, a system like GlucoScreen could really transform our ability to screen and monitor people with prediabetes and even diabetes."

In a normal screening, the patient offers a drop of blood to a test strip.  The blood then reacts chemically with the enzymes on the strip. A glucometer then delivers a blood glucose reading based on that interaction. The makers of the GlucoScreen use that same process combined with inexpensive circuitry to mimic the glucometer function, but on any smartphone.

Early results show the GlucoScreen's accuracy is comparable to that of a standard glucometer but researchers caution the device is still in the prototype stage. More study is required before the device can be approved for use on a wide scale.

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