Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Prick-Free Diabetic Device in Development

news you may not know
Ah - Choices, Choices...

Hong Kong

This is fabulous news for diabetics.

But, first, a bit of perspective. Diabetes currently affects 180 million people worldwide - that number will likely double by 2030. Over 1 million people died of diabetes-related complications in 2005. The World Health Organization projects diabetes-related deaths will increase by 80% in upper-middle income countries by 2015.

The financial impact is also staggering. In 2002 in the United States the cost to treat diabetes was $132 billion - yes, that's a "b," as in billion - this represents 10% of all United States health care spending.

Asian populations are at particular risk of developing diabetes and the current trend represents an impending health care crisis. There are two primary factors at work. Historically, Asian diets have been simple and sparse. The agrarian roots of the Asian culture offered the protection of hard work and basic foods. Thus, Asians have difficulty adapting to a diet comprised of high-fat and rich foods.

Unfortunately - factor number two - China, India, and other Asian countries are following the same path as others with newfound affluence. They are abandoning the simple pleasures of hard work and brown rice for the indulgence of high definition television and deep-dish pizza. The tradeoff may be pleasurable but, in the long run, it is also quite painful.

...Now, to the new device.

In light of the explosion of diabetes among Asians, it seems fitting the breakthrough comes to us from Hong Kong. Scientists at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Nursing have developed a pain-free diabetic testing device. The device uses infrared technology to transmit an infrared beam through the skin - no prick required. The beam measures the wavelength, or frequency, specific to glucose particles and reports their level as a blood sugar concentration.

The device assesses the blood glucose levels in about ten seconds, with an 85% accuracy, on a par with current technologies. The device took four years to develop and is likely to hit the marketplace within a year.

In the meantime, perhaps some hard work and a bit of brown rice may be in order...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about diabetes, including prevention and treatments, see this from the World Health Organization and this from the American Diabetes Association.


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