Next up for Google: a glucose-sensing patch for diabetics

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

One of the leaders in the diabetes management market is turning to Google to make its blood glucose sensors smaller and more appealing to diabetics. And with some 10 percent of the American population dependent on those sensors to manage their chronic condition, that's a sizeable market to address.

San Diego-based Dexcom's partnership with Google's Life Sciences division is designed to create "something that is very, very low cost and very small," Dexcom Vice President Steve Pacelli told Forbes. "Add all that together with a robust data platform. … Diabetes management is largely predicated on having data to make better decisions."

[See also: So many diabetes apps but so few users]

The company's current sensors attach to the body and transmit blood glucose readings every five minutes to a monitor, or about 288 times a day. Dexcom has reportedly paid Life Sciences $35 million in stock, with promises of $65 million more down the road, to develop a wearable monitor that measures without interruption.

The partnership follows Google's announcement of a rebranding under the Alphabet moniker, with Life Sciences and Calico (focusing on technology to manage aging) coming together as one business unit. And it's not the first diabetes partnership for Google; the company is working with pharma giant Novartis on a contact lens embedded with technology that would continuously measure glucose levels through one's tears.

Andrew Conrad, who heads the Life Sciences division, told Engadget the new business unit is "committed to developing new technology that will help move healthcare from reactive to proactive."

[See also: Are providers finally finding value in wearables?]

According to Forbes and other news reports, the Google-Dexcom partnership will focus on a disposable Band-aid-type sensor that attaches to the skin, connecting wirelessly with Google technology to monitor a diabetic's blood glucose level in real time and give both the patient and healthcare providers instant data and a means of acting quickly to any health concerns.

Pacelli told Forbes the company is moving ahead independently of its Google partnership with two new continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices, a "fifth-generation" device now being evaluated by the FDA and another one in planning stages.


[See also: Diabetes apps assuming mHealth bellwether role]