Diabetes patients in the future could be using their mobile devices along with applications and technologies from Samsung and Medtronic to better monitor their disease through a new partnership being formed by the companies.
The effort will merge Samsung's expertise in consumer mobile devices with Medtronic's diabetes management systems to find new, easier ways for patients to track their blood glucose levels and live with the disease. The creation of the partnership was announced at an American Diabetes Association conference on June 5.
Managing diabetes for millions of patients can mean wearing glucose monitors and insulin pumps or constantly pricking their skin and testing their blood for sugar levels. To change that, alternative methods are always being evaluated and tested.
The Samsung-Medtronic partnership will seek new ways for diabetes patients and their doctors to remotely view diabetes data and will explore systems that could ultimately integrate mobile and wearable devices into diabetes management systems, according to the companies.
"By addressing more of the social and emotional aspects of living with diabetes and improving lifestyle fit, we believe that more people worldwide will be able to experience better diabetes control that today's advanced therapies provide," Alejandro Galindo, vice president and general manager of the intensive insulin management division at Medtronic, said in a statement. "Medtronic aims to transform diabetes by providing world-class integrated care, enabled by leading technologies, big data, and informatics. Our partnership with Samsung is a key step in providing convenient and discreet access to diabetes data, so together we can provide people with diabetes greater freedom and better health."
The first project being tackled by the partners is the development of mobile applications for Samsung Android devices including smartphones that will allow discreet and convenient access to personal diabetes data by patients, according to the companies. The apps will enable the viewing of insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) information and will be configured to work with Medtronic's upcoming MiniMed Connect device, which will provide access to important diabetes information for patients, as well as transmit remote alerts to their family members.
"Samsung is committed to applying its deep understanding of how people use technology to bring new innovations to healthcare," Dr. David Rhew, chief medical officer and head of health care and fitness at Samsung Electronics America, said in a statement. "Patients are seeking better ways not only to monitor their condition, but also to enjoy a greater quality of life. We are excited to partner with Medtronic to develop diabetes management solutions that produce positive change and greater autonomy for people living with diabetes."
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, or when the pancreas produces insulin but it is resisted by the body, according to the companies. Insulin is a hormone the body needs to regulate blood sugar (glucose), the body's energy source. Globally, there are 387 million people with diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Other companies have been working on similar treatment and monitoring improvements for diabetes patients. In July 2014, drug maker Novartis licensed Google smart lens technologies that center on the development of special contact lenses with built-in sensors to someday help diabetes patients better monitor their glucose levels. Google had announced in January 2014 that it had been experimenting with special contact lenses equipped with miniaturized sensors that can analyze the tears in the eyes of diabetes patients to determine when their blood sugar levels need to be adjusted, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The experimental Google lenses include innovative, miniaturized sensors that can monitor blood sugar levels in human tears as a way to help diabetes patients keep their disease in check.
The Google lens project began looking at how tears could be used to provide the needed monitoring information, and that eventually led to the contact lens work. The experimental lenses, which look like typical curved, round lenses, also feature copper-colored "grid" lines that are reminiscent of the rear window heater lines on a modern automobile. The sensors embedded in the grid lines measure glucose levels and analyze the wearer's tears using a tiny wireless chip and a miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material, according to the post.