A new joint venture made up of two American and two European companies will aim to use near-field communication (NFC) technology to create new options for diabetes management. The Mayo Clinic and Washington, DC-based medical technology company Gentag will form the American half of the venture, while Dutch medical technology company NovioSense and German R&D firm Fraunhofer IMS will work on the problem in Europe. Both pairs of companies have collaborated in the past.
“By pooling our resources together, we are in a position now to dramatically advance diabetes monitoring," Dr. John Peeters, CEO of Gentag, said in a statement. "Our patented technology allows us to make wireless sensors that are battery-less, disposable, painless and use cell phones or other NFC devices as glucometers. Furthermore we can use the cell phones as controllers for insulin delivery, including disposable NFC insulin delivery systems, under our issued worldwide patents."
Both NovioSense and Gentag have been developing alternatives to the fingerstick glucometer that use NFC to send glucose readings directly to a consumer smartphone. NovioSense's device, like the Google-Novartis contact lens, uses tears to detect and monitor blood glucose. The form factor is a tiny rod-shaped sensor that fits under the user's lower eyelid. Gentag's products are lightweight, adhesive skin patches. The combined technology the joint venture is developing will work with both, as well as with traditional implantable CGMs.
Mayo Clinic's role in the partnership will be to bring its diabetes management expertise and to develop the apps consumers will use to monitor their blood glucose. Fraunhofer's expertise lies in sensor and chip design.
Neither NovioSense nor Gentag currently has FDA clearance for their offerings, so the companies will likely not be able to sell devices in the United States, at least at first. But the companies have an eye on countries where a lower-cost monitoring technology will have the highest impact.
“We want to make pain free glucose monitoring available to everyone independent of their socioeconomic status," NovioSense CEO Dr. Christopher Wilson said in a statement. "It is only by increasing awareness and by making monitoring simple and affordable that we can hope to push back the tidal wave. By creating a device powered only by the NFC antennas found in most modern smart phones, and combining this with a pain free sensor platform, we can cut the cost and burden of glucose monitoring dramatically.”
Once it's ready, the technology will be "licensed, sold or co-developed with a large global partner interested in leading the next generation of diabetes monitoring".