Plasmonics Promises Better Biosensors

But the near-term goal, bloodless blood-glucose monitoring, is likely out of reach

4 min read

7 March 2012—Drawing blood is a daily reality for most people with diabetes. And while checking glucose levels probably isn’t the worst part of the disease, it’s such a pervasive nuisance that someone from nearly every scientific discipline has tried to invent a better way to do it. They’ve pasted transdermal patches to the skin and shone near-infrared light through the earlobes, but still nothing can beat the accuracy of a little drop of blood. 

Evidently, the quest for a better way is not over. Last month, engineers came up with new artillery—a plasmonic interferometer that can detect very low concentrations of glucose in water and, with some reengineering, may also work with saliva. If things go as hoped, people with diabetes will one day measure glucose levels by spitting instead of sticking.

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A New Treatment for Arthritis: Vagus-Nerve Stimulation

Studies will soon show whether electroceuticals outperform pharmaceuticals

5 min read
A tablet computer, a smartphone, a grey belt with white stripes, a grey disc, and a small silver rectangle with a wire curled beside it.

Galvani’s system includes a nerve stimulator that attaches to the splenic nerve.

Galvani Bioelectronics

Monique Robroek once had such crippling arthritis that, even with the best available medications, she struggled to walk across a room. But thanks to an electronic implant fitted under her skin, she managed to wean herself off all her drugs and live pain-free for nearly a decade—until recently, when a viral illness made her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare up again.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

Robroek’s long remission is “very impressive” and rare among patients with RA, says her doctor Frieda Koopman, a rheumatologist at Amsterdam UMC, in the Netherlands. Robroek’s experience highlights the immense potential of so-called bioelectronic medicine, also known as electroceuticals, an emerging field of treatment for diseases that have traditionally been managed with pharmaceuticals alone.

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