Course Blog

Using in vivo bioluminescence imaging to monitor glucose


The exploration of this bioluminescence has never stopped, from using luminescent organisms as the most primitive lighting tools to labeling intra-celelular component by green fluorescent protein. At the beginning, we want to use the energy created by the algae’s photosynthesis process to light the stress [1], or to use bioluminescence to make an interactive fabric which can replace the traditional fur. The brainstorming provided us with more design opportunities including using bioluminescence as a tool to monitor blood glucose levels.


Brainstorming of bioluminescence

Research: why

Diabetes is a common disorder of glucose metabolism. There are two most common measurement methods. The first one is self-monitoring by using rapid testing of finger blood glucose and another one is venous sera measurement. By collecting data of blood glucose monitoring products on, I have analyzed reviews of the three most popular brand’s products to find the disadvantages and design opportunities.

data analysis of blood glucose monitoring products
  1. It lacks accuracy. The current international standard for blood glucose meter is set to be plus or minus 20%, which means that within ± 20% of the error range is acceptable. The new international standard will impose more stringent restrictions. When the value is greater than 5.6, the error range should be within plus or minus 15%. The results of hospital can be regarded as 100% accurate but patients need to wait for it for one or two days. [2]
  2. Vulnerable to interference. Due to the restriction of the glucose meter reaction enzyme, results of measurement might be biased because of interferences, such as oxygen and iodine whereas equipment in hospital are less affected.
  3. Influence of test conditions. Temperature, humidity, altitude and etc. can affect the measurement of blood glucose meter. Hospital equipment is operated under stable conditions that would not skew results.
  4. Affected by human factors. Blood sampling process is likely to be affected by contaminants such as alcohol. Squeezing blood might lead tissue fluid to be mixed into samples. There would be less of such impact in hospital due-to professional operation.


Practice: how

experiment of in vivo bioluminescence

In vivo bioluminescence [3] imaging is an emerging detection technique that has been used experimentally to label cancer cells. [4] I think it is possible to label glucose with luciferase or bioluminescence by subcutaneous injection. Using their biochemical reactions to generate light signals then to capture light signals directly through the camera. By doing this to achieve the noninvasive observation and consequence.




  2. Anderten, H., Freckmann, G., Borck, A., & Kulzer, B. (2016). Limitations of Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring in Patients with Diabetes: A Baseline Analysis of the MyStarT Study. Diabetes,65(S1), A564.
  3. Cunningham, D., Stenken, J., & Wiley InterScience. (2010). In vivo glucose sensing(Chemical analysis ; v. 174). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  4. Choy, G., Choyke, P., & Libutti, S. (n.d.). Current Advances in Molecular Imaging: Noninvasive in Vivo Bioluminescent and Fluorescent Optical Imaging in Cancer Research. Molecular Imaging, 2(4), Molecular Imaging, 2003, Vol.2(4).