Innovations to manage diabetes

Did you know, that every year, a Boston based organization, T1Dexchange organizes Diabetes Innovation Challenge? The challenge brings together diabetes innovators and patients, gives birth to a lot of fresh ideas for diabetes therapy.

Winners were announced in last May but work on the prototypes and selected ideas begun earlier. Last year’s winner is a concept of a glucose-responsive, “smart glucagon”, that is expected to sense low sugar levels and automatically activate to restore blood sugar levels to prevent potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia. The foundation granted $ 50,000 in cash and up to $150,000 of in-kind support to the developing company, and media provided much-needed publicity.

The second runner is a smart shoe insole to continuously monitor people with diabetes for foot ulcers that can lead to amputations. The third-place winner is an ultra-thin, bandage-like patch pump that has the potential to improve medication compliance and lower costs, especially for patients with challenging medication regimens that involve frequent injections.

People’s choice

The challenge has a people’s choice section, where online voters can pick their favorites. Two winners emerged in this category: the first company is developing a self-contained biometric identification and monitoring technology to support self-care management of diabetes. The second one is developing an E-pancreas with a closed loop delivery system.

Some of the ideas that made it to the final are also promising. They bring a glimpse of innovations yet to come. One company promised a device that carries oxygen into the eye to prevent lower levels of oxygen and blindness. Others thought of an ultra-thin, flexible, bandage-like patch pump that delivers multiple drugs and costs less than a pen. A company is promising a tiny wireless user-insertable glucose sensor that works for more than a month, but a CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) device integrated with a smartwatch is also a wanted item.

Smart pens are also new

Smart pens are also a novelty on diabetes IT technology market. One is a reusable injector pen with a smartphone interface. When paired via Bluetooth with a smartphone app, the system keeps tabs on how many insulin units were given at the last injection, when that occurred and other information. It is meant for those who inject insulin multiple times a day. It can deliver 5 to 30 units, dialed in half unit increments. The pen lasts a year without recharging.

We at NETIS (and our startup company, ALSAD Medical) are also working on a solution supporting everyday lives of people with diabetes and kidney failure. While we also think integration of smart devices such as CGMs, smart watches or glucometers is key, we also discovered how important the „non-medical” factors could be: namely daily habits, from nutrition, hydration to exercise and activities, including a balanced sleep. Applications and innovations can help to lead a compliant and easy-to-manage lifestyle (including AI-supported, automatically generated menu plans adjusted to the user’s condition and preferences): we will soon publish our initial results of our ongoing pilot.

Author: Laszlo Varga