Bio-sensing diabetes

Published: Monday 15 February 1993

-- A JAPANESE company will soon begin manufacturing toilets incorporating biosensors that can detect diabetes. This will enable doctors in their clinics to monitor diabetes, especially in patients over 65, by analysing a patient's urine through a computer and modem (New Scientist Vol 136, No 1853). The toilet was developed by Isao Karube and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo and will be made by Inax.

Some of the patient's urine collects in a depression in the toilet bowl and is withdrawn to a chamber containing a solid-state biosensor that detects glucose, an excess of which indicates the patient is diabetic. The sensor is coated with glucose oxidase, an enzyme that oxidises glucose and produces a local deficiency in the dissolved oxygen. Variations in oxygen concentrations are picked up by an electrode. Each test will cost about one US dollar, which is well below hospital-based tests.

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