I am one of the 29 million Americans who is afflicted Type 2 Diabetes. And like most (if not all), for past 12 years, I have been living with a constant ritual of pricking my fingers with a small needle, drawing out a drop of blood and using a strip to monitor my sugar levels. I would do it about 3-to-5 times a day, and let’s just say, it hasn’t been the most pleasant experience.
However, a week ago, I was prescribed a Freestyle Libre, and I finally got the device last evening. It is a sensor which you put on your skin – usually in the lower side of your arm — and use a monitor or an app to take readings, as often as you can, usually after eating or generally when feeling peckish. Either way, I am chuffed at the idea of this new device in my life.
There are about 400 million people who are suffering from diabetes in the world today, and that number is going to rise to nearly 700 million. It is a growing epidemic, and something that is so personal as many of my close friends and family suffer from it. I am excited to see new developments.
For instance, just yesterday MIT announced that it had developed a capsule that can deliver insulin orally. Too bad, the news came on the same day Jeff Bezos decided to take on the blackmailers because this is a real BFD — big frigging deal, in case your dirty mind was thinking something else.
Several years ago, Traverso, Langer, and their colleagues developed a pill coated with many tiny needles that could be used to inject drugs into the lining of the stomach or the small intestine. For the new capsule, the researchers changed the design to have just one needle, allowing them to avoid injecting drugs into the interior of the stomach, where they would be broken down by stomach acids before having any effect.
The tip of the needle is made of nearly 100 percent compressed, freeze-dried insulin, using the same process used to form tablets of medicine. The shaft of the needle, which does not enter the stomach wall, is made from another biodegradable material.
The MIT team is now continuing to work with Novo Nordisk to further develop the technology and optimize the manufacturing process for the capsules.
It is perhaps one of the more exciting news in the world of diabetes. My medical situation is why I am predisposed to viewing startups pursuing diabetes-focused solutions with a degree of affection. And as for Freestyle Libre, it is nice to be living free of constantly pricking my fingers to take a reading. I can’t wait for what comes next in diabetes monitoring technology.
February 8, 2019, San Francisco