Biomedical engineers at the University of Calgary have made a discovery that could change the lives of diabetics.

The Electronic Mosquito is a skin patch that provides a less invasive way for diabetics to take a blood sample for sugar level checks.

"That would be a godsend, it really would," says Ian Tod, a diabetic.

The Electronic Mosquito prototype is about as big as a deck of cards and contains four micro needles.

The needles, much like a mosquito, puncture the skin just deep enough to draw blood but not damage any nerves. This means the diabetic will experience little or no pain.

"[The needles] can bite through the skin individually and sequentially, each extracting a blood sample, analyzing it and transmitting the information," says Martin Mintchev the director of the Low Frequency Instrumentation Lab at the Schulich School of Engineering.

The data from the blood sample can be sent wirelessly to a computer or monitoring instrument worn on the wrist.

The system also has the potential to be connected to an alarm which alerts patients, or doctors, when blood sugar levels enter the danger zone.

"This is a dramatic improvement over manual poking, particularly for children and elderly patients," says Mintchev. "Our approach is radically different and offers a reliable, repeatable solution with the minor inconvenience of wearing something similar to an adhesive bandage."

Researchers now want to decrease the size of the Electronic Moquito components so more needles can fit on the patch.

If that happens, patients would be able to wear the patch for longer periods of time or test their blood more frequently.

Researchers need to find an industry partner before the prototype can be commercialized.