A cheaper, non invasive, continuous glucose monitor could be around the corner

By | 3 September, 2012
A picture of the manufacturer's factory, or needless pictorial filler. You decide!

A picture of the manufacturer’s factory, or needless pictorial filler. You decide!

Continuous glucose monitors have been around for a while now, indeed I’ve been using one to improve my control for the last 5 years. The market has been dominated by three main players, all with very similar devices, at very similar – and for many out of reach – prices. That could be about to change.

I spent a few hours with California based C8 MediSensors last week looking at their new take on CGM, which just like the blood glucose meter, was invented by the father of a diabetic child looking at current treatment and thinking, we can do better than this. Rather than measure glucose levels from the inside, using a sensor beneath the skin, their device fires a beam of light through the skin to measure the level of glucose in the interstitial fluid. That’s right, no needles and no blood. They’re in the process of gaining CE Mark approval which will allow them to sell their optical CGM device in Europe, hopefully this year.

You wear the device, which is slightly bigger than an insulin pump, and its smaller battery pack next to your skin, attached via a material belt that goes around your waist. You view your BG measurements via an app on your smartphone.

Looking at this from the view of someone who already uses CGM, I’m excited. I know the benefits (and frustrations) CGM can bring, but I also know that that funding can be very hard to get and the ongoing cost of consumables make it too expensive for many people to consider. The C8 has the potential to change this. Let’s take a closer look…

The facts about C8 MediSensors Optical Glucose Monitor System:

  • Accuracy: company data shows it to be in the same accuracy range as standard invasive CGM – like any CGM, this is about giving you a better view and context to your glucose levels, not an accurate number at a particular moment you can use to bolus from – you still need blood tests for that.
  • Techy stuff: the C8 uses Raman Spectography to fire light through your skin and vibrate your molecules. As each molecule has a unique signature, the device can identify the glucose molecules and count them (in all honesty, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea, there’s a full explanation here).
  • Cost: this is a major winner. The C8 will retail at US$4,000 (around £2,500 at today’s exchange rate). That’s about the same cost as one year’s supply of CGM sensors based on using one a week. The C8 will be guaranteed for around 2 years (;
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About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

7 thoughts on “A cheaper, non invasive, continuous glucose monitor could be around the corner

  1. Lesley

    Great write-up, Alison.

    I’m very excited about its launch. I want to have a closer look at the error grid again, though.

    Reply
    1. Alison Post author

      Thanks @lesley1966. Me too, like anything I buy, I’d want to do a lot more research and have a proper trial of it before I committed to buying one. Especially because CGM accuracy seems to be such a personal thing, it almost doesn’t matter what the data says, you need to know how its going to work on you.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Agreed – will be interested to see whether they sort out fruit-based version before launch too.

        At the end of the day any individual’s experience during the first 30 days (and how much they shout about that) will be crucial in defining the products ‘real world’ reputation but I’m more interested in how it works for me personally than published data showing how successful it is for 10,000 other people.

        Reply
  2. matthew

    why does this tech need to be constant? i’d prefer to just have a unit with me for easy, frequent, inexpensive, non invasive testing. a replacement for my current blood based glucose monitor.

    Reply
    1. Alison Post author

      @mugtastic Non invasive BG monitoring would be lovely, but this tech measures the glucose levels in the interstitial fluid, which lags about 20 mins behind the glucose levels in your blood. Those measurements aren’t really accurate enough to use as a spot result to bolus from. The value in this is the constantness, so you can see trends and take action when you see levels falling/rising, but it can’t accurately tell you that right now you’re a 7.

      A non invasive blood glucose monitor to replace all the finger pricks would be lovely, but it doesn’t exist yet as far as I know.

      Reply
  3. Tim

    Hurrah – more competition in the market can only be a good thing, even if it disrupts the major players from their complacency for a wee while.

    Reply
  4. Bunny Disson

    Echo Therapeutics is about to get approval for a needle free CGM that sticks on top of your skin. The accuracy shown was better than my Medtronic and old Dexcom sensor and it will cost $600 for the system. Sensors cost $8 or $10. I can’t wait!!!

    Reply

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