Researchers at Western New England University have created a breathalyzer that may help control blood sugar by measuring the amount of acetone in the breath.

“Breathalyzers are a growing field of study because of their potential to have a significant positive impact on patients’ quality of life and compliance with diabetes monitoring," said Ronny Priefer, professor of medical chemistry at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. "What makes our technology different is that it only accounts for acetone and doesn’t react with other components in the breath."

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The device, which is about the size of a book, uses nanometer-thick films consisting of two polymers that react with acetone. This crosslinks the polymers and alters the physiochemical nature of the film, which provides a quantification of the acetone and, therefore, blood-glucose levels, the researchers said. Priefer will perform controlled testing with patients in late 2014-early 2015, comparing readings from the breathalyzer, finger pricking and actual glucose levels from drawn blood, he said.

The research was presented at the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Antonio.

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