Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russian scientists invent device to bring relief for diabetics

The device can test blood glucose level and introduce extra insulin into blood if necessary 

Physicists from Vavilov State Optical Institute in St. Petersburg invented an amazing medical device. It can test blood glucose level and if it is above normal introduce extra insulin into blood – all this without injections. This is great news for diabetics. However, there is no joy without alloy. Meantime diabetics have to face the bad news: excessive weight, which is common for diabetics, damages memory.

But first, the good news. The device actually represents artificial pancreas consisting of two parts. Scientists want one of them, which is a bit bigger than a watch battery, to be implanted under the skin in the waist area. The other part as big as a packet of cigarettes will be “screwed on the outside” if needed.

“The essence of our method is that it allows to identify glucose and to determine its concentration against a background of various other components of blood – by the glucose two-dimensional spectral image, says Vladimir Chuvashov, Ph. D. (Engineering), the manager of the research. “The method allows to measure the glucose level both by noninvasive and implantable ways.”

A small laser generates irradiance. The laser beam is directed under the skin along the optical fiber, i.e. the part of fiberglass. It is partly absorbed, partly dispersed and partly reflected. The most important is that due to its molecular structure glucose changes the beam parameters. The changed light returns to the device along the waveguide and then the glucose concentration is determined. The information about the device is located in the International Science and Technology Center's database of the most perspective projects.

And here comes the bad news. Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism and is produced in the fat tissues to lessen the need for food. Obese people have excessive leptin produced in their system, which seems to keep them away from food addiction. However, it is not so. Specialists think that this is a case of hyposensitivity to leptin.

The research of the recent decade shown that there is a certain bond between treacherous memory and diseases connected with metabolic disorder, obesity as well as diabetes. Jenny Harvey and her colleagues from the University of Dundee, U.K., assure that abnormally high level of leptin can damage the function of brain cells. They claim that diabetics can have a loss of short-term memory and symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's disease.
Matthew Wayner from the University of Texas at San Antonio, USA, agrees. During the experiments with rats he proved that excessive hormone prevents brain cells from reacting to signals. He thinks that leptin influences the process of so-called long-term potentiation when the cells become more vulnerable to repetition pulse. It is considered a cellular basis for the process of memorizing and learning.

Wayner and his colleagues injected leptin into hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for the information storage. As a result the long-term potentiation of neurons became better, which had to improve the learning capability. In the course of experiments with the cell culture it turned out that a dramatic increase in hormone concentration (e.g. 100 times higher) brings the process of potentiation to an end.

So it turns out that excessive weight can have dramatic effects on a child's progress in studies.