In Development in Diabetes: 4 Amazing Technologies


What’s around the corner? Take a peek at 4 technologies in progress aimed at improving diabetes management.

There have been many advances in the treatment of diabetes, from the discovery of insulin in 1921 to the introduction of metformin in 1995. Home glucose monitoring became available in 1981 and the first patient-use glucose monitoring system was approved in 2004.

With the International Diabetes Federation estimating 387 million people currently live with diabetes and the prediction of that number increasing by 205 million by 2035, it’s a good thing diabetes management continues to improve.

In the following pages, we look at 4 technologies in development that may significantly enhance diabetes care.

Source: Tucker ME. Landmarks in diabetes: 1995 to 2015. Medscape Diabetes and Endocrinlogy. 27 May 2015.

Robotic Pill to Deliver Large-Molecule Biologic Drugs PO

● Novartis and Rani Therapeutics are collaborating on a “robotic pill” for drugs such as insulin that are normally administered via injection.

● The Rani capsule has been specially designed to be swallowed like a traditional pill, yet still deliver medicines into the bloodstream.

● The capsule contains tiny needles made of sugar that are pushed into the wall of the intestine to deliver the drug.

Source: Hirschler B. Novartis digs into health tech with bet on “robotic pill.” Reuters. 27 May 2015.

Food Scanner Identifies Fat, Calories, Ingredients, and More

● TellSpec is a handheld device that uses a miniature near infrared spectrometer and a mathematical algorithm to analyze the chemical composition of foods.

● The scanner communicates with a cloud analysis engine to gather and analyze the spectrum of the food.

● Information regarding the food, such as proteins, carbs, the top 6 USDA allergens, and calories can then be displayed and tracked on a smartphone.

● Beta test scanners started being shipped in April 2015.

Sources: Kharif O. TellSpec’s food scanner knows what’s in your nachos. Bloomberg Business. 24 April 2014.

TellSpec Beta Scanners. TellSpec. 20 April 2015.

Digital Tattoo Measures Blood Glucose

● A wearable, temporary tattoo-based glucose sensor provides noninvasive glycemic monitoring.

● The device employs reverse iontophoretic extraction of interstitial glucose and an enzyme-based amperometric biosensor.

● In other words, the epidermal sensor uses a gentle electric current to attract glucose to the skin’s surface.

● In vitro studies showed the tattoo sensors could detect micromolar levels of glucose in the presence of common interfering chemical species.

Sources: Mesko B. A Digital tattoo measures blood glucose in diabetes. ScienceRoll. 16 January 2015.

Bandodkar AJ, et al. Tattoo-based noninvasive glucose monitoring: a proof-of-concept study. Anal Chem. Published online 12 December 2014.

Smart Contact Lens  

● Last July, Google announced a partnership with Novartis to develop a smart contact lens technology.

● A sensor embedded between soft layers measures glucose levels in the wearer’s tears; a tiny pinhole lets fluid reach the sensor.

● Information can then be transferred wirelessly to a smartphone.

● Google was granted a patent related to a contact lens in March 2015, however, because the company does not comment on patent filings, it is unknown whether the patent is for this particular product.

Source: Sifferlin A. Google granted patent for smart contact lens. Time. 25 March 2015.

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