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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

New Diabetes Sensor
Joseph lucisano, Ph.D. ’87

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GlySens Inc. is developing a new biotech device that could revolutionize the treatment of diabetes. GlySens, which was launched in 1997 by Joseph Lucisano, Ph.D. ’87, and David Gough, a bioengineering professor from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, have developed an implantable glucose sensor and wireless telemetry system that continuously monitors tissue glucose and transmits the information to an external receiver. After human clinical trials and FDA approval, the device could be available for use by people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes within the next few years. It will be an alternative to finger sticking, and to short-term needle-like glucose sensors that have to be replaced every three to seven days.

The implanted device with its sensors sends the glucose information to a data recorder the size of a cell phone. “There are parents with diabetic children who spend their nights worrying that their child in a nearby bedroom may go into nocturnal hypoglycemia,” says Gough. With this device, the glucose sensors could send information to a phone that would alert parents if
the child's glucose levels drop to a dangerous level.

“We are moving toward something that will be automatic and quite unobtrusive. Others wouldn’t even know if someone is using a glucose sensor. Our goal is to get people off the finger- stick cycle,” says Gough.

Today, there are approximately 800,000 people using external insulin pumps. The long-term glucose sensors could be used to adjust the insulin dose and timing of the injection, and reduce the risk of taking too much insulin and becoming hypoglycemic.

GlySens has received a number of peer-reviewed grants from the National Institutes of Health and the company currently has 15 employees. “Many of the people working at GlySens were trained at UC San Diego,” says Gough. “This is a UC San Diego-industry collaboration that could reduce health care costs and lead to new growth in the San Diego economy.”

—Daniel Kane