Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia have created a non-invasive blood sugar testing strip for diabetics to check their glucose levels using saliva samples.

Commonly, diabetics need daily finger pricks with a lancet to check their blood sugar levels, with a drop of blood needing to be placed on the testing strip, Reuters reported.

Some diabetic patients avoid this painful process by reducing the number of tests they take.

The new test consists of an enzyme that identifies glucose in a transistor, which can then transmit the presence of glucose, the University of Newcastle physics professor Paul Dastoor said.

A team of researchers led by Dastoor developed the saliva-based test.

As the electronic materials in the transistor are inks, the new test could be printed at a reduced cost.

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Dastoor was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The holy grail of glucose testing has been something that is non-invasive.

“[This test] really does open up the prospect of pain-free, low-cost glucose testing and hopefully much better outcomes for diabetes sufferers.”

Dastoor noted that the new technology could also be used for Covid-19, allergen, hormone and cancer testing.

In partnership with Harvard University in the US, the Australian team is working on a Covid-19 test that leverages the same technology.

Dastoor added: “I think it’s going to radically change the way we think about medical devices and in particular sensors because we can print these at remarkably low cost.”

After demonstrating effectiveness in clinical trials, the new diabetes test project received a $4.7m (A$6.3m) grant from the Australian Government to set up a manufacturing plant for the test kits.

Life sciences company GBS was awarded this Medical Products Priority Grant for the biosensor production facility.

The company leveraged the Dastoor team’s technology to design Saliva Glucose Biosensor, the first product to be created from the Biosensor Platform.

Currently, the product is being advanced as a point-of-care diabetes test, offering an alternative to finger pricks.