Early reaction

Becca Krukowski, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at The University of Virginia School of Medicine. She is also an expert on health access and public policy around it.

Krukowski notes the prototype is in its early stages.

“It is important to note that this article describes the testing of this device with only 5 participants, so it will be important to see how the device performs in larger, more diverse samples and in less controlled settings,” she told Healthline.

Nonetheless, Krukowski finds the idea an interesting one.

“Having grown up with a family member with type 1 diabetes, I can definitely see the appeal of this kind of device, especially for periods like vacations or life changes such as going to college, where it may be particularly difficult to maintain the usual balance,” she said.

For the general public, she sees possibilities as well.

“While activity tracking devices are pretty widely available, there aren’t great ways of continuously monitoring what we eat or drink, so I can see the appeal of a device like this in gaining knowledge of our own health behaviors,” she said.

It could also be a benefit to researchers.

“A device like this could also be helpful for nutrition-related research because we often have to rely on self-report at this point, which isn’t ideal because keeping track of everything you eat and drink takes significant effort,” Krukowski said.

But she cautions that adoption of such a device could take time and education.

“There are already widely accessible devices like activity trackers and, unfortunately, I have not seen them well-integrated much into clinical care,” she said.

They also often tend to lose momentum after the initial excitement, she added.

“When the novelty wears off for activity trackers, they often end up in the back of a dresser drawer,” Krukowski said.

For that reason, she says, success may mean enthusiastic adoption not just by the user but by their medical provider as well.

“Longer-term engagement with monitoring devices for many people often requires some sort of personalized feedback or accountability to maintain motivation,” Krukowski explained.

What’s next

Tehrani has launched AquilX with fellow study author Hazhir Teymourian.

Under their company, they plan to dig into figuring out how often the microneedle patch needs to be replaced and just how many results they can track using it.

Tehrani dreams of one day having it monitor insulin levels in the body – something that impacts people with diabetes that they have no actual way of tracking in real time.

He says they can’t yet give details on a timeline to market, how regulator approvals might go, cost, or accessibility.

His team plans on more studies and papers soon. He notes his dream is real and has attracted support.

“There is so much excitement around this,” he said. “We have powerful business and scientific people (involved). We’ve created an enthusiastic team.”

One person, in particular, is enthusiastic.

“My mother. Oh my gosh, she just cries,” Tehrani said. “She’s so proud – and hopeful.”