There have been rumors, dreams, and even reports about noninvasive glucose monitors, but we’ve yet to see anything finalized. Glucose-sensing tattoos, smart contact lenses, and even e-mosquitos are some of the devices that have been explored as ways to make diabetes management more manageable. App-based technology has made great strides in increasing the convenience of diabetes management, and glucose-monitoring jewelry has been prototyped, but we’re still waiting for a truly noninvasive testing device to be both effective and readily available.
There’s reason to be excited about every new advance that makes life easier and, hopefully, takes us a step closer to a cure. But we’d still like to see something that is truly noninvasive (under the skin doesn’t count) and that’s actually being developed, not just talked about. There’s reason to think that the time may be now!
A new device from Israel claims to be the first truly noninvasive device that can accurately monitor blood glucose without the need to prick your finger or insert something under your skin.
Cnoga Medical, Ltd., a startup company based out of Caesarea, Israel, has come up with TensorTip, a device that can analyze blood glucose based on the color changes in someone’s skin. A finger is placed inside the device and an LED light shines in specific wavelengths through the fingertip. Then the TensorTip’s camera detects changes in the reflected light signal. A readout on the TensorTip’s screen then gives an accurate glucose, heart rate, and blood pressure reading. That reading is sent to the user’s portable device and, if needed, can be sent to their doctor. The whole process takes about 40 seconds.
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So What’s The Catch?
The device does need to be calibrated, and that process involves taking blood a few times a day for the first week using a traditional glucose meter. The software in the TensorTip uses that first week’s readings to calibrate itself specifically to an individual’s blood color, skin tone, body characteristics, and responses to glucose over time. Think of it as a getting-to-know-you period.
Professor Andreas Pfützner, MD, PhD, who tested the Israeli device in two clinical studies in Germany, said that it is the calibration period that is key to the device’s success. Previous attempts to create one-size-fits-all solutions have failed, but the TensorTip is designed to learn the specifics of a single individual.
In emergency situations, a blood sugar meter and test strips can still be used. But overall, one week of calibration seems a small price to pay for two years of prick-free glucose readings.
But Is It Accurate?
Professor Pfützner tested the device at the Pfützner Science & Health Institute, Diabetes Center & Practice in Mainz, Germany. He says that he was not paid by Cnoga for his studies.
According to the professor, the device “achieved the same level of monitoring as invasive devices.” He calls it a “true alternative” to needle sensors. The TensorTip can provide accurate, pain-free readings as often as needed without needing replacement parts. Sounds great to us!
The same technology is now being used to develop other devices that can monitor blood pressure, cardiac output, hemoglobin, pH, and red blood cell count. Cnoga hopes these devices will be especially useful for people who live far from medical facilities.
So What’s Next?
Cnoga’s vice president of global sales and marketing says that they are the first company in the world to create a noninvasive glucose meter that complies with global standards. The TensorTip is already certified in the European Union, Brazil, and China. It’s available for purchase (through the company’s website) in Germany, Italy, and France and is expected to be available in Israel soon. The process to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to start in 2018.
We hope that the TensorTip will be available to those who need it in the U.S. soon! We appreciate all the scientists, doctors, and researchers all over the world who continue to address the challenges that people with diabetes face every day. Let’s hope the work continues until we find a cure!