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Diabetes: the scourge continues to grow.

The statistics just keep getting worse. How can this be true in America? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.1 million Americans have diabetes and one out of four has not yet been diagnosed. (1) Another 86 million are pre-diabetic, and a mind-boggling nine out of 10 do not know it. This is almost one-third of the American population.

Help is on the way. At a MDG Boston meeting (mdgboston. org) on Sept. 16 at the Boston University Photonics Center in Boston, Mass., a panel of innovators spoke about some of the latest treatments being evaluated in clinical trials that are showing great promise in the treatment of diabetes.

Why It's Important

Diabetes is expensive. Diabetics are some of our most sick patients and according to the CDC, their risk of death is 50 percent higher than patients not affected by the disease. (2) Medication costs for diabetic patients are twice as high as those without diabetes. It is well known that the emergency department is the most expensive place to treat patients, and in 2009, 47.4 percent of the patients admitted to the emergency department in the United States had diabetes as part of their listed diagnosis. (3) Many were experiencing a hyperglycemic crisis, or were admitted with hypoglycemia.

Good News on the Innovation Front

The recent MDG Boston meeting featured a panel of innovators that was a mix of academics, healthcare organizations and medtech innovators discussing some real treatments that are in the clinical trial stage. CEO Jeff Valk of Boston, Mass.-based Admetsys, discussed the development of his company's artificial pancreas for hospital and surgical care of diabetic patients. (5) Admetsys has developed a monitoring system that is adaptive to each patient, automates glucose measurement intravenously, takes measurements every few minutes to use near continuous modeling of each patient's individual metabolism, and delivers insulin, glucose or both as needed. The potential benefits? Reduce the time required to monitor glucose by busy intensive care unit nurses, possibly reduce length of stay and improve patient outcomes.

But Wait, There's More

On the academic side, the Boston University team members were shining stars. Ed Damiano, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering, presented the bionic pancreas. Damiano's son developed Type 1 diabetes when he was 4 years old. Now, Damiano's son is 16, and is preparing to go to college. When he departs, Damiano wants him to take a bionic pancreas to his new dorm. Although it sounds like it might consume a large part of the footprint of a small dorm room, this tool is wearable. It was designed by the Boston University team to automatically deliver subcutaneous insulin and glucagon though a wearable device that adapts to the changing condition of the patient's needs. In clinical studies, the bionic pancreas has been proven to reduce and stabilize mean glycemic levels over the long term. Damiano has named the device the iLet, (pancreatic islets of Langerhans), and although it is not an iPhone, it looks enough like one to be attractive to juvenile diabetics, who may be sensitive about wearing a device that sets them apart from their peers.

Finally, Technology Prevails

In a space that no one would ever consider anything but underserved, some promising new technologies are in development for segments of the diabetic population. Segmentation, in fact, is the only way to attack the behemoth of diabetes with innovation. Divide and conquer.



(2.) Ibid

(3.) Op cit. 1

(4.) Op cit. 1


Editor's note: Readers are invited to submit market data and trend questions to Maria Shepherd. Periodically, selected questions will be presented in this column, with answers from Maria.

Maria Shepherd * Data Decision Group

Maria Shepherd has 20 years of leadership experience in medical device/ life-science marketing in small startups and top-tier companies. After her industry career--including her role as vice president of marketing for Oridion Medical, where she boosted the company valuation prior to its acquisition by Covidien pic; director of marketing for Philips Medical; and senior management roles at Boston Scientific Inc.--she founded Data Decision Group. Data Decision Group provides marketing and business strategy and innovation research for the medical device industry. The firm quantitatively and qualitatively sizes and segments opportunities, evaluates new technologies, provides marketing services and assesses prospective acquisitions. Shepherd has taught marketing and product development courses, was recently appointed to the board of the Aligo Medtech Investment Committee (www. and can be reached at (855) 343-3100 x 102 or at mshepherd@ Visit our website at
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Title Annotation:Datawatch
Author:Shepherd, Maria
Publication:Medical Product Outsourcing
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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