US-based Oregon State University (OSU) engineers have employed additive manufacturing to develop an advanced glucose sensor for patients with Type I diabetes.

To construct the sensor, engineers used electrohydrodynamic jet or e-jet printing, which is said to create finer drop sizes and works with biological materials such as enzymes instead of ink.

With the help of a single point of bodily entry or catheter, the technology would create an artificial pancreas, while the existing systems require four entry points and is a type of belt worn around the waist.

OSU chemical engineering associate professor Greg Herman said: "This technology and other work that could evolve from it should improve a patient’s health, comfort and diabetes management."

The systems being developed provide constant monitoring of blood glucose concentrations and can cope with portable infusion pumps.

They are capable of controlling delivery of the hormones insulin and glucagon and can maintain safe levels of glucose in the blood.

OSU electrical engineering professor John Conley said: "The challenges of making these sensors on such thin plastic films were difficult to overcome, but we found that additive manufacturing approaches simplified the process, and should lead to much lower costs."

OSU, along with Portland-based Pacific Diabetes Technologies has applied for a patent on the technology. Pacific Diabetes is involved in commercializing the system.