Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
By Quinn Nystrom, MS
Some people say they dislike it, but just as many (if not more) know the world is a better place because of it.
Whether it is your friend or foe, the medical field has amplified patient care, increased disease control, and improved treatment methods because of technological advances. A lot has changed since my younger brother and I were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the late 90s. I remember the early days of our diagnosis when we used to roll our insulin (the process of rolling the bottle of insulin between your hands two to three times to mix the insulin), had to suffer through long needles, and struggled with dinosaur-like blood glucose machines.
Now patients navigating life with diabetes have the advantage and convenience of continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and tubeless insulin pumps that don’t require finger sticks or the need to carry around lancets or test strips.
These innovations, and the many more that are on the horizon, feel almost futuristic at times!
As I surpass two decades of living with type 1 diabetes, I still get excited when I learn about new technology and advancements in healthcare that I know will make the lives of those living with the disease a bit easier. To date, there are 1.6 million Americans are living with T1D, including about 200,000 youth (less than 20 years old) and 1.4 million adults (20 years old and older). Sixty-four thousand people are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
Four exciting tech announcements for 2022:
1. Tandem Diabetes Care is the latest company to achieve a significant milestone by winning FDA clearance of bolus insulin dosing on the t: slim X2 insulin pump using the t: connect mobile app.
The San Diego, CA-based company said this represents the first-ever FDA-cleared smartphone application to initiate insulin delivery on both iOS and Android operating systems.
Tandem said it intends to roll out the mobile bolus feature update throughout the spring in a series of limited launch groups, followed by an expanded launch later this summer. Limited launch participants have already been selected.
“This FDA clearance further validates our commitment to innovation and the diabetes community by providing one of the most requested feature enhancements,” said John Sheridan, President and CEO of Tandem Diabetes Care. “With the improvements in diabetes management provided by Tandem’s Control-IQ technology, giving a meal bolus is now the most common reason a person interacts with their pump, and the ability to do so using a smartphone app offers a convenient and discrete solution.”
2. Insulet Corporation – In January, Insulet won FDA clearance of the Omnipod 5 Automated Insulin Delivery System, the first tubeless system with smartphone control (not compatible with iPhone). With Omnipod 5, Insulet promises to market the first closed-loop insulin delivery system via a tubeless pump, combined with Dexcom’s G6 continuous glucose monitor. The system detects changes in blood glucose levels and automatically adjusts patients’ insulin doses.
3. In early 2022, Senseonics won FDA approval for the next generation, E3, Eversense 180-day continuous glucose monitoring system. The Eversense E3 was approved for people with diabetes aged 18 and older. The sensor is inserted under the skin of the upper arm (and removed) every six months by a trained healthcare provider. The 180-day implantable sensor will be available later in 2022.
In the PROMISE study, researchers analyzed the safety and accuracy of the Eversense E3 in 181 adults ages18 and up. Overall, results showed that the Eversense E3 was safe and accurate for up to 180 days. The accuracy of the Eversense E3 was also better than any currently available CGM on the market. The sensor requires two calibrations per day for the first 21 days of wear. After day 21, one fingerstick calibration is required daily (an improvement over the 90-day sensor, which requires two calibrations per day for the entire 90 days).
4. Dexcom – The disposable G7 sensor is 60% smaller than its predecessor, which first debuted in 2018 and offered a 30-minute warmup period after application, opposed to the current two hours.
After enrolling more than 300 trial participants—and comparing data from more than 39,000 individual readings paired up with self-taken blood sugar levels—Dexcom’s G7 sensor fell within +/- 20% of the confirmed glucose reading about 93% of the time, including during periods of high, low, and normal blood sugar. The company has officially submitted data for review to the FDA, meaning that a U.S. approval could also come in 2022.
All of these advancements have been music to the ears of the diabetes community. But despite all of this progress, I feel the need to include this parting thought.
Though all this new technology is exciting and can make diabetes management easier, it’s important to note that the high price of insulin in the USA is debilitating and much of this technology is still out of reach for many Americans.
The issue of insulin affordability has reached a fever pitch, and I’ve personally received dozens of messages from fellow Minnesotans who don’t know how they will live another day because they can’t afford their insulin.
And that’s feedback just within one state.
People all over the U.S. are forced to ration their insulin, and many have died because of it. I share this with all of you not to scare anyone or demand pity but instead to raise awareness.
Like many diagnosed with diabetes, I am grateful for each new tech announcement and for all of the positive strides in the healthcare community. But in all honesty, when it comes to the cost of prescription medications for anyone, we still have a long way to go.