Flash glucose monitoring latest concept in testing

New idea easier than self-monitoring and more accurate than continuous monitoring


As anyone with diabetes knows, the process of monitoring glucose levels can be inconvenient at best and painful at worst.

Monitoring levels are important to ensure proper management of the condition and diabetes is eminently manageable if it is done properly. In some cases, glucose monitoring is essential to ensure that people with diabetes do not go into hypoglycaemic shock which can have serious consequences.

However, monitoring has many drawbacks. In many cases it has to be done six or seven times a day. Understandably, busy people forget.

Drawing blood
Pricking your finger to draw blood can also be painful no matter how many times it is done. There is a lack of privacy and a lack of time.

Nearly 40 per cent of diabetes patients surveyed across Europe cited forgetting as the chief reason why they do not monitor.

Tired of testing (33 per cent), inconvenience (21 per cent) and pain (16 per cent) were also cited by patients who do not monitor themselves properly.

Small wonder then that 67 per cent of those with type 2 diabetes and 60 per cent of those with type 1 diabetes report diabetes monitoring that falls below the recommended levels.

Currently there are two methods of monitoring.

Self-monitoring, mostly used for people with type 1 diabetes, blood glucose involves extracting a pin prick of blood and should be done six to seven times a day.

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) was introduced in 1999 and was seen as an improvement on self-monitoring. It involves a disposable sensor, a transmitter and a monitor about the size of a mobile phone.

Glucose readings from the sensor are transmitted to the receiver worn by the patient. It is regarded as an improvement in glucose monitoring and is better at tracking patterns in glucose levels and improves the detection of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia.

Expensive system
It emits an alarm when glucose levels fall too low or rise too high. However, it is estimated that CGM devices may be inaccurate up to 21 per cent of the time. It is also an expensive system and only a small fraction of diabetes patients can use it.

It is widely recognised that there is a gap in the market for more accurate and cost-effective monitoring of diabetes care.

Into that breach has come pharmaceutical company Abbott with a new concept in testing called flash glucose monitoring.

The concept was given a public airing at the recent European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) meeting in Barcelona.

Flash glucose monitoring will involve a small sensor that can be worn on the arm for up to 14 days and a reader to scan glucose readings.

The process would, in theory, be considerably easier than self-monitoring and more accurate than continuous monitoring.

‘Visual snapshot’
The device will operate simply by means of flashing the sensor with a device about the size of a mobile phone which will provide the person’s ambulatory glucose profile (AGP) which it describes as a “visual snapshot of the [person’s] typical day of blood sugars, trends and patterns”.

The information will be downloadable to a PC or tablet device and will allow patients build up their ambulatory glucose profile (AGP) over time.

The device could make a significant difference to diabetes patients, but it is still at the clinical stage trial.

At Barcelona the company said it expected it to be available by the end of next year.

When asked about the all important question of costs, Abbott’s head of global research and development, Jared Watkin, said the cost was commercially sensitive information but he expected the flash monitor to be widely available over time.

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