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DUBAI: A Saudi startup is inventing technology that will make sugar level testing pain-free and non-invasive.

GlucoJet, founded by three young Saudis at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), is developing a new method of detecting sugar level with the use of saliva, instead of blood.

“We have managed to develop a sensor for glucose that doesn’t need to use blood, instead it uses the saliva to measure the glucose. It’s completely pain-free, you don’t need to do the finger pricks,” GlucoJet co-founder Abdulelah Saleh said, referring to the traditional way of determining glucose count.

Currently, diabetes patients use a glucometer to monitor their sugar level. The portable device works by analyzing blood usually taken with a prick to a patient’s fingertip, which Saleh noted could be painful and expensive for some patients.

“Every single diabetic patient I have talked to so far has been telling me: If you put this in the market, I’m throwing away the (glucometer),” he said.

But GlucotJet is yet to be available commercially, Saleh clarified, because it still needs to go through a long process of development, testing, and approvals.

“As a research project, it started about four years ago, but as a startup it’s only been less than a year so far. We are still very young. We are still building the startup. We’re building our team. We’re trying to develop our product enough so we can actually put it to the market,” he added.

Saleh said they have already proven the technology works but emphasized: “To actually get it to the level where it can be used by customers, we still need to do a lot of development.”

The development process will still go on for another two years, Saleh said, while Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval might take around three years to finish. He said this length is longer compared to other startups in general but is “less than the average time in the biotech startup scene.”

GlucoJet was one of the startups that received a $100,000-grant from the recent TAQADAM accelerator program, one of KAUST’s flagship entrepreneurship events.

Saled said the grant could help them in developing the product, and especially in meeting potential investors who will support them until they launch the product commercially.

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