Google Life Sciences Targeting Diabetes–Part II

diabetes-776999_640Last month, Zintro experts responded to the September announcement by Google Life Sciences that it’s researching new therapies to improve diabetes care in collaboration with French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Mechanical design expert Chris Wiegel works in the medical diagnostics and device industry and has a comprehensive understanding of diabetes care-related issues. He shares his thoughts about the initiative.

“Type I diabetes as a genetic disease is not subject to prevention or (at the moment) cure, only management to reduce incidences of hypo- and hyperglycemia,” explains Wiegel. “Type 2 diabetes is of course somewhat preventable, more manageable, but not necessarily less serious in terms of health consequences. I think the market right now is a bit saturated with simple diagnostic devices as well as insulin delivery devices, not that they couldn’t be improved in terms of user-friendliness. Analytics in combination with an associated medical support structure have been shown to produce positive outcomes in Type 2 patients where behavior modification can lead to improvements in health. This sort of treatment covers the vast majority of diabetics.

For the most severe cases of Type 2 diabetes and generally all Type 1 diabetics, prevention of ketoacidosis on one end and hypoglycemia on the other are critical to maintaining health. Continuous glucose monitors are more helpful at preventing extreme blood sugar excursions than “spot” monitoring since the blood sugar is always monitored. However, these devices are somewhat cumbersome and difficult to use.

Dogs for Diabetics is an organization that provides trained dogs to so-called brittle diabetics, who are very sensitive to blood sugar excursions. The dogs are trained to alert upon detection of (unknown) volatile chemicals that are released by the body when inefficient cell metabolism occurs, usually as a result of insufficient blood glucose available to fuel the cells. The presence of these chemicals predicts the onset of hypoglycemia so that when the dogs alert the patient of the situation, the patient is able to consume some energy to boost their blood sugar enough to avoid the hypoglycemic episode. The training of these dogs is expensive and time-consuming. I believe that research into determining the exact chemicals involved and the developing a device that would detect the chemical(s) and alert the patient of impending hypoglycemia could be an excellent alternative to CGM systems in terms of ease-of-use, cost, and user comfort. I think Google should examine this as a potentially life-saving device, especially for Type I diabetics.”

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