The facts about diabetes are startling. Of the 346 million people worldwide who now live with the disease, there are nearly 26 million in the United States, and hundreds of thousands in Israel. Fully 10 percent of adults in that country live with the disease, according to a large Middle East study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation in 2009.
But for the Tel Aviv University professor and doctor Moshe Phillip, it’s the 5,000 Israeli children burdened with the life-robbing disease that compels him and his team to find ways to ease their pain.
Although Phillip, who is also the director of the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes located in the National Center for Childhood Diabetes at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel is not touting a possible cure, he and his colleagues were proud to announce a new, cutting-edge technological innovation this year, dubbed an “artificial pancreas” called MD-Logic. It comes a lot closer to eliminating the debilitating effects of erratic blood sugar levels in diabetics by accurately monitoring blood sugar levels.
Phillip and Drs. Revital Nimri and Shahar Miller from Schneider Children’s are now collaborating with PositiveID Corporation, a Florida-based company that develops technology for diabetes management, and the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami to develop several compact monitoring systems that patients could easily carry with them to monitor their blood-sugar levels automatically and more precisely than they could on their own.
MD-Logic works with commonly available, over-the-counter, under-the-skin glucose monitors as well as insulin pumps, connecting these two units to a new computerized program that calculates the exact amount of insulin necessary for the body on a continuous basis.
A sensor connected to the pump automatically adjusts the insulin ratio.
Phillip, the vice dean for research and development at TAU and an associate professor in the Sackler Faculty of Medicine Administration, told GlobeNewswire that the MD-Logic system was a joint project developed by the Kinderkrankenhaus auf der Bult in Hanover, Germany, and the University Children’s Hospital in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
“We at Schneider Children’s believe in the importance of international collaborative research,” Phillip said.
Phillip and his team tested the system on 18 12- to 15-year-olds at an overnight diabetes camp in Israel. Similar groups in Germany and Slovenia were also observed. The results showed that accuracy was greatly improved.
Right now, the MD-Logic is tethered to a computer, but Phillip and PositiveID are working to find a way to make it mobile so it could fit into a backpack. Diabetics could then have their blood glucose levels automatically monitored and adjusted 24 hours a day.
The next phase of research will be to test the product under home-use conditions.
Researchers know that the more stable a diabetic person’s blood sugar is, the lower the occurrence of devastating health consequences that can include the loss of limbs, organs, and eyesight. Diabetics are also twice as likely to meet an early death when compared to their healthy peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We look forward to working with the DRI on their groundbreaking research, and with PositiveID on the study of their diabetes management products to provide better ways for people with diabetes, particularly children, to test their blood glucose painlessly,” Phillip told GlobeNewswire.
PositiveID is working on bringing four other systems to market, however all have patents pending.
The first is Easy Check, a glucose-detection monitor that analyzes a patient’s blood-sugar levels by analyzing their breath.
Another technology, already approved by the FDA, uses a radio frequency identification chip embedded under the skin. This glucose-sensing microchip provides continuous blood-sugar monitoring when combined with the RFID.
PositiveID also has its own FDA-approved portable system, a wireless technology that allows diabetics to access a website to keep logs of their blood sugar throughout the day. In addition, it also allows them to share their medical information with family and medical staff, as necessary. The next innovation of this system, pending FDA approval, will be the iglucose glucometer, a blood glucose meter with the iglucose technology built inside of it.
Commenting in GlobeNewswire, PositiveID chairman and CEO William Caragol said he was very optimistic about collaborating with Schneider Children’s and the DRI
“It will enable us to accelerate the remaining development and study of our non-invasive diabetes management projects, and ultimately bring these ground-breaking products to market,” he said.