Israeli researchers help improve diabetics' insulin management

A diabetes blood sugar test  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A diabetes blood sugar test
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A group of innovators from Petah Tikva and Massachusetts on Tuesday launched a research collaboration in hopes of improving insulin management techniques for individuals with type 1, or juvenile-onset, diabetes.
Because many type 1 diabetics rely on glucometer readings and insulin injections rather than use a regulated insulin pump, little data about their insulin self-administration habits is available, according to Eran Atlas, CEO of the Israeli digital health start-up DreaMed Diabetes. Researchers at the company will work with scientists and doctors from Harvard University and Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva to optimize therapy options for these patients, who receive multiple daily injections and rely on point-of-care blood glucose measurements.
“Currently, there is no available data on the insulin injection habits of this type 1 population,” Atlas said. “In the age of ‘smart’ connected devices – in which insulin injections will be registered on the patient’s smartphone and data will be gathered in cloud-based platforms – we see an opportunity to collect accurate data on the majority of type 1 patients and to develop a product that will help them better control their disease.”
Founded in 2014, DreaMed develops health solutions and provides decision support tools for patients with both type 1 and type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes, using algorithms to optimize intensive insulin therapy, according to the company.
The start-up’s first product, GluocoSitter – licensed to Irish medical device company Medtronic – is an artificial pancreas technology that provides around-the-clock monitoring of glucose levels for insulin pumps. Its most recent product, Advisor, is an on-demand personalized tool that uses machine learning to help patients make treatment decisions by analyzing their existing glucose readings.
The Israeli and American collaborators will be working to develop “automated algorithms for insulin management” and will evaluate the new technology in a clinical setting, explained Dr. Eyal Dassau, a senior research fellow in biomedical engineering at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a principal study investigator.
This collaborative work, he said, will enable the team members “to develop a novel dosing support system for patients on multiple daily injections and to improve care for many that are not using insulin pumps.”
The engineering school’s dean, Prof. Francis J. Doyle III, whose past work includes design of drug-delivery devices for diabetes, is among the researchers involved with the project.
“This partnership represents many years of experience in algorithms development for automated glucose control, sometimes referred to as artificial pancreas systems, including extensive clinical validation,” Doyle said.
Dr. Revital Nimri, from Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petah Tikva, and Prof. Moshe Phillip, director of the hospital’s Institute for Endocrinology and Diabetes, will also be joining the team.
Patients who administer multiple daily injections to receive their insulin must rely on personalized data, such as past glucose and insulin levels, meal times, amounts eaten and physical activity, said Phillip, who is also chairman and chief scientific officer at DreaMed.
Not only does this time-consuming “retrospective analysis” require a high degree of expertise, but evidence has shown that most patients do not reach their goals for glucose control, according to Phillip.
“Therefore, there is a need to develop additional tools and algorithms to assist both physicians and patients to better optimize patient’s treatment profile in order to improve glucose control outcomes in the type 1 diabetes population,” he said.