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Cell phones to measure blood sugar levels?

Georgetown University teams with two other tech research firms to develop a new way to measure the glucose levels of diabetes patients without a finger prick.

Three groups including Georgetown University teamed up Wednesday to develop a new way to measure the glucose levels of diabetes patients without a finger prick to draw their blood.

The technique involves the use of disposable skin patches (embedded with a wireless sensor chip) that can monitor glucose levels, and then transmit that information to a cell phone. With the data, the mobile phone could conceivably control an insulin pump remotely, according to the researchers.

The organizations involved in the project are Georgetown, Gentag, and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a technology development company. Also a tech research firm, Gentag has developed an RFID-sensor reader platform for cell phones. And with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, researchers from Georgetown and SAIC created the skin patch technology, initially to monitor soldiers on the battlefield.

As part of their agreement, the groups will combine their respective intellectual property to develop the new application for diabetes patients. The patches will be able to monitor patients' blood every hour for a 24-hour period, and transmit that data to a device that's already familiar to many diabetes patients. The phones also include geolocation technology in the case of an emergency.

"We expect that this new, painless, disposable, wireless glucose sensor technology will significantly improve diabetes monitoring worldwide," Gentag President John Peeters said in a statement.

The organizations did not set a specific launch time for the technology.