Friday, 5 September 2014

Finger sticks and spurting capillaries....becoming obsolete?

When I was 9 years old, I punctured the tip of my middle finger for a routine-as-rain blood test.  But this one was a little different.  Rather than the usual prick-squeeze-apply, I had managed to pierce a capillary and when squeezing the finger to produce my tiny drop of blood, managed to inadvertently spatter blood right across my face, Tarantino style.  As I looked in the mirror, horrified, I couldn't yet have known that one day, while watching the film Kill Bill, Uma Thurman's face would remind me of my nine year-old, freaked out own.  Looking back now I see the humour in that.  At nine years old, that 'funny side' escaped me.

In my diabetic lifetime I've done an average of 70,262 blood tests, and as Kerri Sparling's recent post about why she now changes her lancet regularly demonstrates, this takes its toll on the nerve endings and circulation in my fingers.  The beauty of my Dexcom is that only needing two calibration tests a day, this number has rapidly dropped off.  But nevertheless, I always dreamed that one day there might be a different way of doing things.  A less, 'spurty' way.  Well, Abbott have found a way with the Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System!

The Libre works by inserting a small coin-sized sensor into the skin on the upper arm, and placing the receiver next to the sensor for just 1 second, allowing it to pick up the current reading glucose reading from your interstitial fluid.  It's not strictly 'CGM', in that there is no continuous reading, and there are no alarms to alert for highs or lows, but there are trend arrows to indicate the direction of glucose travel. The growing buzz on the internet forums however, is that this would allow users to gain so much more information in a much less invasive way, and that it is very much the next best thing.  Sadly it won't completely remove the need for testing as tests should still be done to confirm lows and highs, but even that is an enormous step forward to permanent bloodless testing.

Early (unconfirmed) reports suggest the system will retail at £150, with sensors costing £50 for 14 day wear, although this has yet to be confirmed by Abbott themselves.  But InPuT have reported that CE marking has been achieved and they have been invited to a release event, so rather than being one of the 'blue sky dreams' we read about as being 'just around the corner', the Libre system seems to be set for public use, very soon.  All that is awaited is release of the MARD (Mean Actual Relative Difference) data to show the accuracy of the device. MARD is calculated by comparing BG meter readings with laborartory standards. A lower MARD value indicates smaller difference between meter value and the reference value. Higher MARD value indicates larger difference between meter value and the reference value.

The only downside at the moment is that it will only be licensed for those over 18 meaning the hopes of parents that they will one day be able to stop puncturing their children's fingers, is yet to come.  I would have no doubt however, that Abbott are aware of how much this product will appeal to parents, and that bringing it to market for paediatric use is a goldmine waiting to be blown open out of the mountainside.

Check out the Freestyle Libre video below.

All in all, it looks a promising signs for fingertips!

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