Diabetes patients needs frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels. So they must use a less expensive resource for monitoring their blood glucose levels so frequently. Missouri University of Science and Technology students recently devised a biological system that uses segments of DNA embedded in bacteria to detect glucose. The students believe their development could lead to a new type of test strip for diabetics.

Bacteria DNA-Based Blood Glucose Monitoring for Diabetes PatientsThey designed DNA so that bacteria that have DNA would sense a change in osmolarity due to the presence of glucose. Osmolarity refers to the concentration of a compound – in this case, glucose – in a solution.

For their project, the students designed genes that allow the bacteria – a non-virulent strain of E. coli – to sense the presence of the simple sugar glucose. The bacteria emit a yellow glow when glucose is present. As glucose concentrations become higher, the glow becomes brighter.

According to them, their biological system could form the basis for new, less costly processes to help people with diabetes monitor their blood-sugar levels. It would require replacing the fluorescent gene with one that would cause the bacteria to change color based on glucose levels. This in turn could lead to the development of diabetes blood-test strips that could indicate glucose levels based on various colors. For example, a test strip might turn green if glucose levels are within normal ranges, yellow if borderline and red if elevated.

Bacteria-based test strips would also be less expensive to make than current chemical-based test strips, they said. “In the future, based on further research, an insulin gene could be added to this system for use in insulin pumps, where specific glucose levels trigger insulin production.”