Diabetes management is headed to become easier with work progressing on disruptive innovations such as Google’s digital contact lenses that measure blood glucose levels from tears, or Merck’s smart glucose-responsive insulin designed to turn on when you need it and off when you don’t.
While these innovations are work in progress – Google’s patented its technology and Merck’s smart insulin is in early human trials – transformative innovators are using technology to make diabetes management easier with fewer injections and finger-pricks, less data overload, no pain and no worry. More important, these technologies optimise blood glucose control and lower life-threatening risk of sudden peaks and falls in blood glucose levels.
A monitor the size of a thumb-drive and a cellphone help monitor glucose fluctuations and manage diabetes, which affects close to 70 million persons in India. More than one million persons died of diabetes-related complications in India in 2015, estimates the World Diabetes Federation.
“GlucoMe is a digital diabetes care platform that records glucose measurements and insulin doses on cloud using the patient’s iOS or Android smartphone and send actionable realtime alerts and compliance recommendations to optimise diabetes control,” said Yiftah Ben Aharon, CEO, GlucoMe, while presenting his product at Israel’s health innovation conference MEDinIsrael. “It improve adherence and ensures compliance by enabling remote monitoring irrespective of where the patient is,” says Aharon.
Using data stored in the device, doctors can personalise diabetes management, which makes the system popular with physicians. “We don’t sell directly to patients, but work through doctors who use it to remotely monitor patient condition, adjust treatment plans and send recommendations directly to patients.”
This sensor clipped to your earlobe gives you a blood glucose reading within 60 seconds without drawing blood. The machine, called GlucoTrack Model DF-F, uses a noninvasive sensor clipped to your earlobe and a combination of ultrasonic, electromagnetic and thermal algorithms to measure physiological parameters correlated with blood glucose level to draw an accurate reading.
“The results are displayed within a minute on a USB-connected smartphone or tablet, which stores all readings to help you track fluctuations over time,” says Avner Gal, president and CEO of Intergrity Applications, which has developed the system.
Before use, GlucoTrack is calibrated using three finger-pricks over the course of 30 minutes. While one device can be shared by three persons, each person needs an individual ear clip, which needs to be replaced every six months, to get a reading.
A word of warning. Since GlucoTrack uses indirect measurement and readings may get affected by noise inside the body and wind and temperatures beyond a range of 15 to 35 degrees Celsius, it is meant for indoor use and the device alerts if the environment is sub-optimal.
GlucoTrack DF-F is meant only adults with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes and costs US$2,000 and each ear clip costs $180 in Europe. It is undergoing regulatory trials for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Monitoring on the go
You just need to slap on this small, round water-resistant sensor on the back of your upper arm for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Pro system gives a simplified, visual snapshot of glucose levels, along with patterns and trends to help your doctor make customised treatment decisions.
The disposable sensor measures glucose in interstitial fluid through a small (5mm long, 0.4mm wide) filament inserted under the skin and stores the data to make your glycaemic profile using glucose readings taken every 15 minutes – which is 1,340 times over 14 days. The uninterrupted data stored in the sensor is downloaded by the doctor to make dose and time prescription based on glucose fluctuations.
Each sensor costs US$60 and the single reader device, which the doctor can use for multiple patients, costs $65.