We're all waiting for some truly bloodless glucose monitoring technology, of which there is much on the horizon. The wait, however, is long and tedious. Still, we love to hear about what's coming, don't we? I stamped this post "May 08 edition," because I'm quite sure the Bloodless Update will be an ongoing series.
[Editor's note: Do excuse the skeptical tone of this post, but as interesting as all these developments are, I'll really believe them first when I see them actually become available to us]
* At the moment, there's this one, the Symphony System from Echo Therapeutics, which is undergoing a pilot study with two dozen patients in the intensive-care unit at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. It's a disc reportedly about the size of a half dollar, designed to read glucose levels through the skin and transmit the information wirelessly to a nearby computer or hand-held meter. The company's hoping for FDA approval as soon as late next year, when it hopes to "market the device to both hospitals and diabetics for home use."
* There's also the GlucoTrack, being developed by Integrity Applications in Israel. This one will be clipped to your earlobe, believe it or not. "The GlucoTrack uses ultrasonic, conductivity and heat capacity technologies to non-invasively measure glucose levels in the blood. The device is battery-operated and includes a Main Unit (UMU), which contains display and control features, as well as transmitter, receiver and processor, and a Personal Ear Clip (PEC), which contains sensors and calibration electronics. The device is small, light and easy to handle... The Main Unit can be shared by up to three patients, although each will require a Personal Ear Clip. The device includes a USB port for downloading data for off-line analysis, as well as an IR (Infra Red) interface for downloading data to hand-held computers." Wow. Yet press reports indicated the company expected their device to reach the US market in the second half of 2007. NOT. Another neat tech that's totally TBD.
* Freedom Meditech, Inc. is working on a non-invasive ocular glucose measurement technology that's being touted as a "potential breakthrough." Their "consumer ready" product is anticipated to be the size of a small pair of binoculars, they say. Hmmm, nevermind that Oculir went under because they just couldn't make the optic technology work. "The optics needed to shine on the eye and collect the light was a lot bigger challenge than we anticipated. This turned into more of a research project versus a development project, and the investors weren't willing to support that," Oculir's former CEO told me. Let's hope Freedom Meditech has something new and amazing up their sleeve.
* In Switzerland, a company called Solianis is testing a "multi-sensor" CGM system. From the company's website: "Solianis' non-invasive continuous glucose monitor employs Impedance Spectroscopy to track changes in the glucose levels. The IS technology uses frequencies between 100kHz and 8 GHz to measure the effect of changing glucose levels in blood, cells and interstitial fluid and the resulting changes in the ac and dc conductivity in both hyper- and hypoglycaemic events." Anybody know what those frequencies might mean, in terms of making this product more effective than previous attempts at transdermal monitoring?
* Who saw who saw these cool non-invasive D-gadget designs from Sascha Morawetz? One is a digital diary, to be used for record-keeping and "optimizing therapy" and the other is an "insulin aerosol inhaler, replacing the common insulin pen." Right. If only the contents were actually safe and effective.
* Speaking of non-invasive drug delivery, there's some progress in "intradermal" systems -- using microneedle technology that painlessly permeates the skin -- from the Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC). This group has created a patented PyraDerm delivery system, and is planning to start clinical trials in the second quarter of 2008. That would be very soon.
* Meanwhile, Oramed Pharmaceuticals in Jerusalem has successfully completed Phase 1B clinical trials of its oral insulin capsule. This trial utilized healthy volunteers (ie non-diabetic), and was focused on finding the optimal dosage for the formulation of the company's product. It's now gearing up for Phase 2B trials, using volunteers with Type 2 diabetes. The company was just named one of the 60 top "enterprises of tomorrow" representing the future face of Israel -- an event held to mark the country's sixtieth birthday.
All these companies are putting an awful lot of effort and money into new non-invasive treatments, so I believe that it's not all fairy tales and pixey dust. I'm crossing my (poor bruised) fingers that at least one of these comes to market sooner rather than later -- and is actually affordable and works.