In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Sven Delbeck talks about the importance of large volumes of data in diabetology, describes the role the new method could play in other medical specialties and reveals where there is still room for improvement.
What new opportunities does a world where the healthcare industry is becoming increasingly digital offer diabetes sufferers?
Sven Delbeck: We are now able to analyze large datasets in real-time, which facilitates optimized and personalized treatment approaches for diabetes patients. Smartphones (mhealth in the catalogue of MEDICA 2018) and apps (medical apps and app stores in the catalogue of MEDICA 2018) are some of the tools that assist a breakdown and analysis of data generated by self-monitoring of blood glucose (glucose testing in the catalogue of MEDICA 2018). A new generation of biosensor technology makes it possible to collect and analyze continuous glucose data, thus providing an improved quality in intensified insulin therapy. What’s more, apps can track and count carbohydrates and calculate the insulin dose for the patient.
Many continuous glucose monitoring systems feature warning systems that predict imminent hypoglycemic (low level of blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high level of blood sugar) events via sounds or trend arrows. Thanks to app permission, physicians or authorized persons can use the datasets to perform remote diagnostics and provide assistance, which is especially important for parents of children with diabetes or caregivers of diabetic patients.
So far, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia is detected by using invasive methods. You are in the process of developing a new approach. What makes it new?
Delbeck: This is not a brand-new approach. For many years, my doctoral advisor Professor Herbert Michael Heise has already been very successful in his research at the ISAS Research Institute in Dortmund (now Leibniz Institute for Analytical Sciences - ISAS eV), and prior to that by collaborating with associates of the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences in Iserlohn.
The fundamental innovation of the current development is the use of a non-invasive, continuously measuring system based on optical technology to monitor blood sugar. Unlike studied or even established minimally or non-invasive optical methods, which usually represent a mix of integral glucose-specific measurement signals from interstitial fluid, intracellular space and blood, our approach determines the target blood glucose levels, which is considered to be the gold standard in medicine for diagnosing diabetes. The major drawback of tissue-integrated measurement methods is the individually varying time delay of glucose moving between blood and tissue, which renders current, non-invasive optical systems unable to deliver accurate readings pertaining to the patient’s arterial blood glucose concentration.