The Future of Diabetes Treatment
High-tech to zero-tech: The future of 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 fingerprick tests for personal blood glucose monitoring have only been around since the 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. The goal is to monitor your blood glucose and adjust your insulin throughout the day; products that do more so you can think less about diabetes care.
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 Web sites offer a variety of ways to streamline data management, however, researchers in Norway 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 helps adults guide children as they manage blood glucose away from home
• Diaries that integrate with electronic health records aid discussions at doctors' appointments
In fact, the Accu-Chek Connect system offers many of these features, including data management tools, a proven bolus advisor 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 vapor sensor that can "smell" high blood glucose.3
• Research is underway to develop a test that measures blood glucose by analyzing the user's breath.4
• Temporary tattoos that monitor blood glucose levels may also be available someday, once developers figure out how to get their readings to the user.5
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.
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
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.
3Futurity. Wearable vapor sensor can "smell" diabetes. Available at: http://www.futurity.org/wearable-vapor-sensor-diabetes-743642/. Accessed July 1, 2015.
4Diabetes Forecast. A Breath Test for Blood Glucose. Available at: http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2010/jan/a-breath-test-for-blood-glucose.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ . Accessed July 1, 2015.
5Diabetes 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.