In this time of counting our blessings, one of the most promising blessings for people with chronic conditions (in my case Type1 Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis) is the blessing of technology. I recently attended two conferences; one the 2015 Annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology and the other the Diabetes Innovation Summit. What I saw at both gatherings amazed me. Patients simply have no idea of the innovation in the pipeline or that which has been recently announced. And I am not just speaking of drug development. While drug development is progressing at a rate I never imagined I would see, the introduction of products to make life easier is amazing.
I could write many posts about the innovation of type 2 drugs and the possibility that someday these drugs might cross over to type 1. But I will leave drug development for another day. Because there are other just as significant and important developments that do not involve pharmaceuticals. Many of these developments are driven as much by patients as by large corporations
For example the NightScout movement was for a long time a patient driven effort to integrate Dexcom CGM data into the mobile, wearable, and useful real time data. Today, in addition to NightScout; Dexcom and Medtronic have both released technology that reads CGM data and transmits that data to smart phones and from there to any designated person’s device with the appropriate software. This was the dream when NightScout began, today the concept offered first by patients is the reality with major corporations placing research and marketing dollars behind it. Case in point, the Cyber Monday sale by Medtronic of the MiniMED Connect.
The second is Tidepool. Most of us know about new apps to handle CGM like data and make sense of it. Tidepool is a software pathway to make that data accessible regardless of source and independent of manufacturer. When fully realized, it will have terrific benefits for the patient; allowing us to present our data from our pumps, CGM and user inputs in a single format regardless of manufacturer.
The next big innovation in diabetes care may be BigFoot Biomedical’s pursuit of an artificial pancreas. Using pump technology from the former Asante’ pump BigFoot is working to develop a closed loop pump device that requires minimal intervention. The technology will utilize CGM data to externally assist management of blood sugar. No, it is not at this point an artificial pancreas (AP), but it is a patient hack that will get the vaulted AP to market sooner, either by Bigfoot, or one of the major pump manufacturers. Regardless, BigFoot is going to push the market in a manner that patients’ regard as very important and manufacturers may have otherwise overlooked.
So for diabetes technology, the winning innovator in my mind is the patient. Trust me, when we (the patients) bring devices to the marketplace of ideas, the marketplace listens.
RA is a different sort of disease pattern. There are a lesser number of us and technology is still being offered by companies to the market on our behalf. Some of it is fascinating, some well, not so much.
One technology I saw was from DNA Chip Research INC. it analyzes a patients’ RNA to determine if Remicade, Actmera, or Orencia might work as an RA biologic after 6 months of use. It predicts efficacy (the likelihood of the drug working) after six months of use. This helps doctors’ prescribe the best drug before we undergo six months of treatment. For people like me who have been on a path of multiple trial and errors related to biologics.
I was also taken with the coolness of a new product to improve comfort of outpatient injections in an office setting. The product is called JointTap and it is coming to market from Arthroventions. The product (when implemented) should improve injection of medications like Corticosteriods by using a blood pressure like device that pinches the body area and directs the injection to a specific target area. This product will help patients with direct targeting, and positive pressure around the injection site. Many of us dread those injections and this product (when it comes to market) will make them less difficult. It is amazing how simple tech can make a big difference.
Therefore, for the patient the leading technology story I witnessed was patient comfort. It appears vendors have gotten the message that living with RA is painful and frustrating. The 2015 story is that innovators are working to lessen the pain and improve on wasted time trying biological drugs with little chance of working.
See other 2015 Blessings at: ( www.RADiabetes.com )