This one, a privately held company based in Oregon, has been working on developing a "minimally invasive" continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS) for about ten years. (I'm guessing the company name sounded a lot more futuristic back then.)
From what I gather, what's new and different with the iSense system versus the current CGM models that have recently hit the market (DexCom, Medtronic Guardian, Abbott Navigator) are two things: the special flexible micro-wire technology of their sensor, and the sophisticated data reporting system they're developing, which they call The Glycemic Signature™. Some basics:
The microsensor: "a multi-layered electrochemical sensor that is about 4 times the size of a human hair. Like the MiniMed CGMS system, the small sensor portion would be placed through the skin, but the reduced size would greatly reduce the effort and minimize pain."
The Glycemic Signature™: "a real-time representation of a patient's blood glucose condition in both graphical and numerical form... it consists of four metrics: SnapShot, Movie, Box Graph and Continuous Glucose Moving Average."
Sounds to me like the latter could be a really useful and powerful system for extracting meaning out of your CGM data. How nice would it be for you and your doctor to review a few large, clear graphs that illustrate your personal "glycemic signature" for the last few weeks or months?
Presumably the third big benefit of the iSense technology is increased accuracy. At last year's Diabetes Technology Meeting, iSense's Chief Scientific Officer gave a presentation about "Simultaneous Use of Multiple Glucose Sensing Units," in which he showed the potential benefit of using several sensors and a voting algorithm to improve the overall accuracy of a glucose sensing system. He stated that the voting method yielded significantly better accuracy than a simple averaging method, and could therefore "be used to address accuracy concerns in a closed loop system."
So why is it taking so long for iSense to come to market? Apparently the company is currently conducting human trials with quite positive results. "But bootstrapping finance is certainly an issue. You can only do what you can afford," said a company insider, who asked not to be named. They hope to come to market within the next year or two, pending FDA approval.
A few other interesting side notes:
* Not long ago, reader tipped me off that iSense was experimenting with all sorts of allergenic medical adhesives ("super-glue was tried, believe it or not, as a way to attach a 30-day sensor, but it didn't go very far as a practical choice"). No official data was available on this, but I'm thinking that if they can overcome issues with skin reactions to medical adhesives, they might be sitting on a gold mine!
* According to Diabetic Investor David Kliff, Bayer Healthcare has already made a strategic investment in iSense and its Glycemic Signature system. He also says Bayer has its eye on acquiring Abbott's Diabetes unit, in particular the Navigator CGM system. While this may seem a bit odd, Kliff explains: "One of the major issues with the Navigator isn't whether the unit works, the real issue is that Abbott cannot manufacturer sensors consistently or with any scale. Bayer properly understands that when it comes to the insulin pump market, it's critical that pumps have the ability to communicate with a CGM system."
Yup, that sure looks like the future. And whether they're swallowed up immediately or not, iSense technology is looking pretty engaging.