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article imageGoogle to search for answer to diabetes

By Paul Moyer     Sep 21, 2015 in Science
A new technology giant is entering into the diabetes arena. Google announced in early September that they will be looking to make an impact in the way diabetics monitor their glucose levels.
The new Google parent company, Alphabet, has already announced partnerships with three healthcare organizations: Sanofi, Novartis and Dexacom. The full details of these partnerships have not been released such as the amount of the investments and the terms of the agreements.
While the company has managed to produce the world’s leading search engine and create a self-driving car, diabetes is the first disease Google is focusing on.
In and interview with KQED, Jacquelyn Miller, a spokeswoman from Google’s Life Science division said that, “It’s really hard for people to manage their blood sugar,” and now they are hoping to change that.
Diabetes occurs in individuals whose pancreas does not create any or enough insulin for the body. Without insulin, the body cannot effectively control the amount of glucose that enters the blood stream.
There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes, is less common. Only five percent of diabetics are diagnosed with type 1. Type 1 diabetics are usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but it can be diagnosed later in life.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common, representing more than 3 million cases a year. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not effectively use the insulin that the pancreas uses.
Although Google’s commitment to diabetes is still new, there have already been several significant invention announcements.
One of the first products Google hopes to release with its new diabetes focus is a glucose monitoring contact lens. The monitoring contact lens is a part of the new partnership between Google and Novartis.
The contact lens will use microchips embedded between two thin layers of contact lens material. All data from the contact lens will be synced with an app for the user to review. The app will allow lens’ users to share this information with family members and medical professionals.
With close to 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes and the recent rise of wearable technology, Google expects their contact lens to be extremely successful with the diabetic community.
Currently diabetics have to prick their finger and use testing strips to measure glucose levels. Depending on the severity of the diabetes and the activity level of the diabetic, they may have to prick their finger 3 – 10 times a day.
Although diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world, very little advancement has been made in the monitoring and treatment of it. Google is trying to change this trend.
Google and its partners won’t be stopping with the contact lens. The partnership with Dexcom has produced its own monitoring device. The new device is the size of a small bandage, which is fraction of the size of current glucose monitoring devices.
The wearable monitor will collect the data in real-time and store it using cloud storage. The companies hope to replace the traditional painful finger pricking.
The CEO of Dexcom says his idea with the partnership is to provide smaller, thinner, and cheaper diabetic equipment to the masses. Most current continuous glucose monitoring systems cost around $1,000 for the device and receiver. Plus the users have to purchase sensors that can cost $40 to $100 apiece and only last around one week.
Not only will these new, smaller devices make a having diabetes less intrusive, but it will also provide more data on the disease itself. Google is known for its ability to collect and analyze data. Having real-time data of a diabetic’s glucose levels can pinpoint the cause of spikes or dips.
While these products could be years away from being released to the public, the diabetic community is excited to see the impact that Google will make on the monitoring and treatment of diabetes. These monitoring systems could make tracing diabetes seamless.
In the long-term plans, these partnerships could help to discover the risk factors for type 1 diabetes. With the financial and technological power of Google, this partnership could provide data to find new medications or treatments for both types of diabetes. This could even be the first step to finding a cure.
More about Diabetes, diabetes research, Diabetic