Treating diabetes: There’s an app for that; How software can make diabetics’ lives safer and simpler

Treating diabetes: There’s an app for that; How software can make diabetics’ lives safer and simpler

Jun 21st 2014 | New York | From the print edition

IF DIABETICS are to keep their blood-sugar levels in a healthy range, they must rely not only on periodic visits to the doctor, but also on careful daily management of their medicine, meals and exercise. For years, this regime included regular self-administered blood-sugar tests and similarly self-administered insulin injections. Now, in the better-off parts of the world at least, these things can be automated. There are gadgets that monitor sugar levels, and implanted pumps that deliver insulin. But Ed Damiano of Boston University and Steven Russell of Massachusetts General Hospital think things could be improved further by using software to make these devices work together as what would, in effect, be an artificial pancreas.

As they outlined on June 15th to a meeting of the American Diabetes Association held in San Francisco, Dr Damiano and Dr Russell have created an app, housed in an iPhone, which receives data every five minutes from a glucose monitor implanted in a patient’s body. The app analyses these data, plus the patient’s weight (a good proxy for his blood volume), and draws appropriate conclusions. The phone then transmits the app’s instructions to two implanted pumps. One of them delivers insulin, to lower blood sugar. The other delivers glucagon, which helps raise it.

The findings of a trial of this system, on a group of adults and teenagers with Type 1 diabetes, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the talk. They look promising, particularly in adults. The combination of detector, algorithm and pumps reduced the amount of time patients spent with low blood sugar by two-thirds compared with their usual care.

The new system is bulky, so a streamlined version is being developed. And though all the hardware is standard, the app itself counts as a medical device, meaning the Food and Drug Administration must give it its blessing. If it passes muster, then the lives of those diabetics who can afford it will be made better.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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