Future Diabetes Treatment
Diabetes care has come a long way in just a few decades – after all, the first insulin pump was introduced in 1963, and finger-prick tests for personal blood glucose monitoring have only been around since the mid-1980s. So what's next?
In development: Automating insulin delivery – the artificial pancreas
Taking insulin pumping to the next level, an artificial pancreas is being tested that combines a continuous glucose monitor, insulin pump and glucagon pump (should blood glucose go too low), all managed by a smartphone app. The goal is to monitor your blood glucose and adjust your insulin throughout the day; http://sites.bu.edu/bionicpancreas/
Much smaller and more contained (and unlikely to be ready for many years), a patch that senses blood glucose levels and delivers insulin automatically is also in the works.1
Now: Connecting with your blood glucose – and your doctor
New ways to track blood glucose data and connect with your healthcare team can greatly simplify diabetes control. Smartphone apps and websites offer a variety of ways to streamline data management, however, researchers in Norway have found that the greatest potential lies in a few key features:2
- Seamless data transfer from the meter to the app eliminates the need for manual entry and reduces the risk of human error
- Automatic data sharing with a parent or caregiver enable peace of mind while their loved ones manage blood glucose away from home
- Diaries that integrate with electronic health records aid discussions at doctors' appointments
The Accu-Chek® Connect system offers many of these features, including data management tools, a clinically proven bolus advisor3 for accurately calculating mealtime insulin and the ability to save photos of meals to support carb counting discussions with your healthcare provider.
There's even more on the horizon
Ideas are in development to sense acetone in the body, a biomarker associated with blood glucose.
- Engineers at the University of Michigan in the United States are testing a wearable vapour sensor that can "smell" high blood gluose.4
- Research is underway to develop a test that measures blood glucose by analysing the user's breath.5
- Temporary tattoos that monitor blood glucose levels may also be available someday, once developers figure out how to get their readings to the user.6
Today and every day: Remembering the basics
Eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep may not sound new or exciting, yet they remain the foundation of successful diabetes management and healthy living. So, while advanced technology has a great deal to offer in the world of diabetes care, it's important not to lose sight of the proven low-tech and no-tech solutions, too. Remember, it's your future. Commit to your health every day, and your efforts will pay off throughout your lifetime.
1NHS Choices. Could a smart insulin patch mean no more diabetic injections? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/06June/Pages/Could-a-smart-insulin-patch-lead-to-the-end-of-diabetic-injections.aspx. Accessed July 1, 2015.
2Ärsand E, Frøisland DH, Skrøvseth SO, et al. Mobile health applications to assist patients with diabetes: lessons learned and design implications. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2012; 6(5): 1197–1206. Available at: http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC3570855. Accessed July 1, 2015.
3Ziegler R, Cavan DA, Cranston I, et al. Use of an Insulin Bolus Advisor Improves Glycemic Control in Multiple Daily Insulin Injection (MDI) Therapy Patients with Suboptimal Glycemic Control: First Resuls from the ABACUS trial. Diabetes Care. 2013; 36: 3613 - 3619.
4Futurity. Wearable vapor sensor can "smell" diabetes. Available at: http://www.futurity.org/wearable-vapor-sensor-diabetes-743642/. Accessed July 1, 2015.
5Nano. A nanotechnology diabetes "breathalyzer". Available at: http://www.nanomagazine.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&.... Accessed July 1, 2015.
6Diabetes NSW. Temporary glucose-reading tattoo could replace needles. Available at: http://diabetesnsw.com.au/temporary-glucose-reading-tattoo-could-replace-needles/. Accessed July 1, 2015.