High-Tech Diabetes Devices

Mary Kate Cary Health Guide
  • Here’s a question for you, the same one that was posed to attendees at the Diabetes Technology Society meeting held (November 10-12, 2005) in San Francisco.

    Which of these technologies under development is the tool most needed by patients with diabetes?

    1. Noninvasive glucose monitor (to us parents, this means no more finger pricks)

    2. Real-time continuous glucose monitor with a primary indication, even if it is minimally invasive (constant blood glucose levels 24/7, although the device may be implanted as a computer chip or somehow attached to the body)

    3. An artificial pancreas that requires patient determination of bolus doses at mealtimes (basically a pump that monitors blood sugars and reacts with the proper dose, but with dosage levels under the control of the patient in case there’s a mistake)
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    4. Inhaled insulin (no more shots!)

    5. Computerized and individualized case management software to accurately determine insulin dosage and dietary modifications (helps you determine the right dose and achieve better control through diet)

    6. Highly accurate hypoglycemia detection monitor with alarm (would sense a low blood sugar before it comes on and signal the patient, so you could treat or even prevent the low sooner)

    My theory is that those attendees who responded to this survey were probably pretty hard-core technology types, rather than parents and kids. My guess is they were biomedical engineers, diabetes specialists, endocrinologists, pump manufacturers, and the like who would go to a high tech meeting like this. I also suspect their answers would be different than ours.

    Here are their rankings:

    33% voted for a real-time continuous sensor
    23% for a highly accurate hypoglycemia detector,
    22% for a noninvasive glucose sensor,
    11% for an artificial pancreas,
    8% for computerized individual management tools, and
    3% for inhaled insulin.

    What do you think is the most interesting? I think what interests me more than the answers is the question itself – and the fact that it reads, “which of these technologies under development” is most needed? The fact that each one of these tools is in the pipeline to families with diabetes is huge news to me. Why do we have to rank them? We want them all, and we don’t want to wait very long for them.

    Speaking of waiting, this same high-tech crowd was asked their prediction when diabetes would be cured. Only ten percent thought it would be cured within 10 years. The majority – fifty eight percent -- voted for 25 years, while 50 years received twenty one percent. Another ten percent felt it would take 100 years or more to cure. I think that most parents would have voted that a cure is much more imminent, but then we’re not the experts who have to deal with the FDA approval process. I’ve told my daughter we want to have a cure for her by the time she leaves for college, which is now only eight years away. Let’s get these guys moving!

Published On: November 26, 2005