The dream that just won’t die
When it comes to diabetes management there are certain dreams that just won’t die. For the past 20 or so years Diabetic Investor has seen more than our fair share of companies whose main goal is to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor. The basic premise behind each attempt is simple, IF patients with diabetes did not have to prick their fingers to measure glucose levels they would test more frequently and ultimately manage their diabetes more effectively.
What’s a little crazy here is there is little, if any hard evidence that supports this belief. Each time we see another attempt to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor, conventional or continuous, the company developing this technology just assumes that patients will test regularly because they would not have to prick their fingers. That the reason patients don’t test regularly is directly tied to the so-called pain factor.
Although we would not describe glucose monitoring as a pleasant experience we disagree with the premise that a finger prick is the primary reason patients do not test. Our contention has always been that the reason patients don’t test as frequently as they should is because they don’t value the information gained from the test. That the information gained from the test is not actionable. We have long contended that even if there was no pain or finger prick average testing frequency would not increase just because the test was performed non-invasively.
Unlike the companies racing to develop a non-invasive system Diabetic Investor actually has data to back up our claims. Numerous studies have proven that by far the most effective tool to increase glucose monitoring is patient education. These studies basically show that once a patient understands what these numbers mean and how they should be used, they will test more frequently. Simply put it’s not how the data is gathered that matters but how the data is used.
Yet this quest to develop a non-invasive system continues. What’s even more amazing is the fact that while so far no company has been successful at developing such a system these attempts continue to be funded. It’s not an understatement to say that millions of dollars and countless hours have been thrown at these efforts. Yet with all the millions spent and all the research performed there is not one commercially available non-invasive glucose monitoring system.
Still even with this dismal track record this quest continues as evidenced by two new efforts. The first comes from the land down under and according to an article posted on the Australian Business Review web site involves measuring glucose via a patient’s saliva. The article states; “THE development of a low-cost, saliva-based glucose test using a 2D printer could make blood tests a thing of the past for diabetics.
The Australian-developed needle-free test detects concentrations of glucose and is up to 100 times more sensitive than current blood sensors.
The easy-to-use test integrates biosensors or chemical signatures into printed transistors.”
The next effort comes from the respected Mayo Clinic who according to an article posted on the Imperial Valley News web site have partnered with Gentag, Inc to develop the next generation of wearable biosensors designed to fight obesity and diabetes. The articles states;
“A first-of-its-kind, the wearable patch sensors are the size of a small bandage, and are designed to be painless, wireless and disposable. In the bandage is a sensor that communicates via a closed-loop diabetes management system which is compatible with cell phones.”
Now Diabetic Investor does not wish to cast aspersions on our Australian friends nor the respected people at the Mayo Clinic but we have been down this road before. A road that almost always ends up to be a dead end. Yes these trips begin well as they are filled with promise and hope. However as the trip progresses it becomes clear that this path once filled with hope is just another failed effort. This is the history of non-invasive glucose monitoring. A history where failure is the norm and success still a dream.