Non-invasive Raman spectroscopy can monitor glucose level


Diabetes has caught attention of heath professionals and researchers due to its alarming increase, worldwide.  Diabetic patient have a tough task at hand of managing their glucose level as they cannot eat much sugar that can elevate their sugar level and at the same time too low sugar can deprive body of its necessary fuel.  We have recently seen, researchers working on glucose monitors that can be alternative to a needle pricking monitors.  Researchers at MIT’s Spectroscopy lab are working along the same lines and they want to exploit Raman spectroscopy for glucose monitoring.

How would Raman spectroscopy work for glucose monitoring?
Raman spectroscopy is an excellent tool to identify organic molecules and works on the principle of analyzing frequency of vibration of bonds.  Each molecule has a unique frequency of vibration, which can be used as a finger print for that particular molecule. The technique can reveal glucose levels by simply scanning a patient’s arm or finger with near-infrared light, eliminating the need to draw blood.

What is limitation of Raman spectroscopy for glucose monitoring?
Raman spectroscopy makes perfect sense in measuring glucose level in blood.  In fact, the idea proposed by a late MIT professor of Physics, Michael Feld has been in exploratory phase for last 15 years.  Main limitations of the technique for measurement of blood sugar include:

  • Infrared light penetrates only half a millimeter in person’s skin, so Raman spectroscopy can measure glucose level in fluid present in skin cells as suppose to blood itself
  • Skin cell does not respond to glucose levels as fast as blood cells to different metabolic changes, such change in glucose level after a meal.

How did researchers solve limitation with Raman spectroscopy?
 Graduate students Ishan Barman and Chae-Ryon Kong developed:

  • an algorithm that relates the...

    concentration of glucose in blood to that of interstitial fluid in skin cells and hence allowing them to predict blood glucose levels
  • a new calibration method, called Dynamic Concentration Correction (DCC), to address the lag time like eating meal.  This method incorporates the rate at which glucose diffuses from the blood into the interstitial fluid.

The DCC calibration method has been tested on a population of 10 healthy volunteers, to significantly boost the accuracy of blood glucose measurements.  The study reported an average improvement of 15 percent, and up to 30 percent in some people.

The research was published in the July 15 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry. Barman and Kong plan to launch a clinical study to test the DCC algorithm in healthy volunteers this fall. Their work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Center for Research Resources.


Measurement of glucose monitoring based on Raman spectroscopy looks promising, especially after researchers solved the limitation associated with the technique.  Researchers anticipate that this can be used to make glucose monitoring devices about the size of a laptop computer that could be used in a doctor’s office or a patient’s home. Such a device could one day help some of the nearly 1 million people in the United States, and millions more around the world, who suffers from type 1 diabetes.

Healthy Monitoring!




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