SCIENTISTS have created a non-invasive patch to measure glucose levels through the skin – potentially removing the need for millions of diabetics to carry out finger-prick blood tests.

The patch draws out glucose from fluid between cells across hair follicles, which are individually accessed through a set of miniature sensors using a small electric current.

It does not pierce the skin.

Glucose collects in tiny reservoirs and is measured, with readings taken every 10 to 15 minutes over several hours.

Researchers say the array of sensors and reservoirs on the patch mean it does not require calibration with a blood sample, making finger-prick blood tests unnecessary.

The team, from the University of Bath, hope the patch will become a low-cost, wearable sensor that sends regular, clinically relevant glucose measurements to a phone or smartwatch wirelessly – alerting patients when they may need to take action.

Their work is published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Professor Richard Guy, from the university’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, said: “A needle-less method to monitor blood sugar has proven a difficult goal to attain.

“The closest that has been achieved has required either at least a single-point calibration with a classic ‘finger-stick’.

“The monitor developed at Bath promises to be an essential contribution in the fight to combat the ever-increasing global incidence of diabetes.”