April 11 - A new glucose monitor that can be synced with an iPhone is being hailed by diabetics and doctors as a tool that could save lives. The device allows diabetics to conveniently manage their condition while also alerting their doctor and concerned relatives when their blood sugar levels get too high. Jim Drury reports.
Teenager Anielle Pointu says she felt devastated after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year. Now needing regular doses of insulin, she feared that she'd be unable to maintain the rigorous programme of self-administered blood sugar monitoring her condition requires. But then her nurse referred her for nationwide trials of the iBGStar, a one-inch long device, which slots into an iPhone or iPad and today, does much of the work for her. The iBGStar contains a needle to prick the skin and draw a small amount of blood which is monitored instantaneously. Phone software analyses the data, flashing the results on to the screen within six seconds. Anielle says the device has helped her regain confidence. SOUNDBITE (English) ANIELLE POINTU, DIABETES TYPE ONE SUFFERER, SAYING: "With the new monitor I feel like I can manage my diabetes better. With the new equipment and stuff I see like, it's the smallest one I've ever seen, so I can see how things are advancing. It's making me feel like more confident that like things will get better.......With my new monitor I can plug into my smartphone and I have my log book wherever I go." Other smartphone apps are already helping diabetics, but the iBGStar is the first to allow them to input their own data into their phone using a free Diabetes Manager App. The device, launched recently in London, allows users to follow changing trends in their blood glucose. It also records their carbohydrate intake and insulin levels. Dr Andrew Hockey, medical director of manufacturers Sanofi, says it the technology is a huge advance for diabetics of all ages. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR ANDREW HOCKEY, DIABETES MEDICAL DIRECTOR, SANOFI, SAYING: "Anybody can use this blood glucose meter. It simply plugs into an iPhone and if you can use a modern phone you can use this meter, you don't have to be technically savvy. You can use this from 16 through to 86." Professor Peter Hindmarsh, of London's University College Hospital, works with diabetic children. He says the device's third party monitoring capability could be a life-saver. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER HINDMARSH, PROFESSOR OF PAEDIATRIC ENDOCRINOLOGY AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE HOSPITAL, SAYING: "If you came out with a very low glucose value, and it's quite possible that you might not be able to make rational decisions based on that because of the hypoglycemia that you're currently having to face, that information if everyone was agreeable could then be transmitted on to somebody who could come in and say 'oh, actually you're looking a little bit low there, let's do something about it'. So it's got quite an interesting safety feature to it which could be harnessed for the benefit of the individual." High blood sugar levels in Type-1 diabetics can lead to heart and kidney damage, and in extreme cases blindness and even death. The World Health Organisation says around 180 million people worldwide suffer from some form of the disease. The device is currently available in Europe and its developers hope to make it available to diabetics around the world soon. Jim Drury, Reuters