Living with diabetes
Diabetes has been a documented medical condition for more than 3,000 years. In comparison, the journey of diabetes technology has been a relatively short but life-changing one. In less than 100 years, diabetes has gone from being a certain fatal illness to one that can be managed, allowing people with diabetes to be able to lead near to normal active healthy lives when their condition is well managed. The technology and discoveries from people all over the world have helped children and adults live longer lives (1).
For years, people with diabetes have had to do finger pricks to check their blood glucose levels, a vital part of living with diabetes. This helps them work out if they need to take more medication, when to eat something, or for when they want to move more (2).
More recently, new devices have been developed to offer continuous glucose monitoring, automatically estimating blood glucose levels throughout the day and night (3).
Welsh tech firm Afon Technology is a leading innovator in the field of healthcare technology. Here we take a closer look at how the Monmouthshire-based firm is aiming to revolutionise blood glucose monitoring through the development of a non-invasive device which will transform the daily experiences of individuals living with diabetes.
The journey of diabetes management, monitoring and technology
Monitoring blood glucose levels has come a long way from the days before insulin was discovered, when a liquid formula of copper was heated with the individual’s urine to check glucose levels.
In 1965 a method of testing using blood was invented. A drop of blood would be placed on a test strip and the colour would change, indicating the levels of glucose in the blood.
In the 1980s the first home monitor was launched, allowing people with diabetes to test their levels at home.
The first continuous glucose monitor (CGM) was introduced in 1999, with this method of monitoring proving to popular. New devices were developed which notified users of potentially dangerous blood glucose levels in real time.
The next discovery was that blood glucose levels can be measured through a needle into the skin, with readings taken from the fluid between cells just under your skin, known as interstitial fluid. This meant that CGMs could be attached to the skin for a few days at a time. In 2012 it became possible for the information to be viewed on a mobile phone.
Afon Technology: A ‘game-changer’ in the future of continuous blood glucose monitoring
New CGM devices have recently come on the market which are minimally invasive, but nonetheless still invasive.
The multi-skilled team at Afon Technology are working on a ground-breaking, non-invasive technology which will turn any smart watch into a glucose monitor.
The team have developed a sensor, Glucowear™, which will sit on the underside of the wrist, attached to the user’s watch strap.
Glucowear™ uses low power RF/microwave technology to track and record changes in blood glucose levels, in real time. The sensor will feed back to a companion app on a smart device to communicate blood glucose readings immediately, making diabetes management easier than ever before.
This needle-free technology will give accurate and real time results all day, every day, without the need for daily finger-pricking. Glucowear™ will remove a huge degree of pain as well as hassle from the lives of people with diabetes – it has been calculated that people with diabetes have to make an extra 180 decisions every day around their diabetes management! Glucowear™ removes a huge amount of stress from their decision making.
Glucowear™ removes the need to replace the device after a short time period, and there is no risk of the device falling off or being caught by an item of clothing. It’s one less thing that needs to be replaced or ordered every month.
Afon Technology is currently putting its sensor through rigorous testing and trials with plans to start selling the device in 2024.