The life sciences team at Google will be joining forces with DexCom, a company specializing in glucose monitoring devices, to develop a new low-cost bandage-sized sensor for people with diabetes. In addition to being small and low-cost, the new wearable sensor will be disposable and usable by people with all types of diabetes. The device will be connected to The Cloud and provide real-time information.
DexCom state that the aim of the partnership is to develop next-generation continuous glucose monitoring products that will be "substantially smaller and much less expensive than existing technologies." "This collaboration is another step toward expanding monitoring options and making it easier for people with diabetes to proactively manage their health," states Andrew Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, with 1 in 4 unaware that they are affected by the disorder.
Although a serious disease, diabetes can be managed with appropriate levels of physical activity, diet and medication. As a result, keeping track of personal glucose levels is crucial. DexCom and Google want to make a device that will eventually become the standard of care for patients with diabetes, eventually replacing the fingerstick glucometer.
The collaboration will look to combine the miniaturized electronics platforms developed by Google with DexCom's "best-in-class sensor technology." This is not the only Google wearable device in development. A bandage-sized glucose monitoring device does not represent Google's first foray into the world of medical devices
In June, their life sciences group revealed they had developed a health tracking wristband for measuring heart rhythm, pulse and skin temperature.
Intended use is for this to become a medical device that's prescribed to patients or used in clinical trials. In July, Google announced another partnership with pharmaceutical company Novartis; they plan to develop a contact lens capable of monitoring the blood sugar levels of its wearer.
The glucose-monitoring contact lens is estimated to take a few years to develop, as is the wearable sensor being developed by Google and DexCom. DexCom estimated that commercialization of the first product of the collaboration will be within the next 2-3 years. They hope that the second product will be available within 5 years. While glucose levels were once only trackable by analyzing urine samples, projects such as this one from Google and DexCom indicate that methods for treating and tracking the disorder continue to improve.
Fast facts about diabetes
o Diabetes occurs when insulin production is inadequate or the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin
o Common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, weight gain and cuts and bruises that do not heal properly
o Approximately 90% of diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes, whereby the body does not produce enough insulin.