Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Google develops contact lens glucose monitor

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Google unveiled Thursday a contact lens that monitors glucose levels in tears, a potential reprieve for millions of diabetics who have to jab their fingers to draw their own blood as many as 10 times a day.

The prototype, which Google says will take at least five years to reach consumers, is one of several medical devices being designed by companies to make glucose monitoring for diabetic patients more convenient and less invasive than the traditional finger pricks.

The lenses use a minuscule glucose sensor and a wireless transmitter to help those among the world’s 382 million diabetics who need insulin keep a close watch on their blood sugar and adjust their dose.

The contact lenses were developed during the past 18 months in the clandestine Google X lab that also came up with a driverless car, Google’s Web-surfing eyeglasses and Project Loon, a network of large balloons designed to beam the Internet to unwired places.

But research on the contact lenses began several years earlier at the University of Washington, where scientists worked under National Science Foundation funding. Until Thursday, when Google shared the project with The Associated Press, their work had been kept under wraps.

“You can take it to a certain level in an academic setting, but at Google we were given the latitude to invest in this project,” said one of the lead researchers, Brian Otis. “The beautiful thing is we’re leveraging all of the innovation in the semiconductor industry that was aimed at making cellphones smaller and more powerful.”

American Diabetes Association board chair Dwight Holing said he’s gratified that creative scientists are searching for solutions for people with diabetes but warned that the device must provide accurate and timely information.

“People with diabetes base very important health care decisions on the data we get from our monitors,” he said.

The device looked like a typical contact lens when Otis held one on his index finger. On closer examination, sandwiched in the lens are two twinkling glitter-specks loaded with tens of thousands of miniaturized transistors. It’s ringed with a hair-thin antenna.

“It doesn’t look like much, but it was a crazy amount of work to get everything so very small,” Otis said at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters. It took years of soldering hair-thin wires to miniaturize electronics, essentially building tiny chips from scratch, to make what Otis said is the smallest wireless glucose sensor ever made.

Other non-needle glucose monitoring systems are also in the works, including a similar contact lens by Netherlands-based NovioSense, a minuscule, flexible spring that is tucked under an eyelid. Israel-based OrSense has already tested a thumb cuff, and there have been early designs for tattoos and saliva sensors.

A wristwatch monitor was approved by the FDA in 2001, but patients said the low level electric currents pulling fluid from their skin was painful, and it was buggy.

“There are a lot of people who have big promises,” said Dr. Christopher Wilson, CEO of NovioSense. “It’s just a question of who gets to market with something that really works first.”

Palo Alto Medical Foundation endocrinologist Dr. Larry Levin said it was remarkable and important that a tech firm like Google is getting into the medical field, and that he’d like to be able to offer his patients a pain-free alternative from either pricking their fingers or living with a thick needle embedded in their stomach for constant monitoring.

“Google, they’re innovative, they are up on new technologies, and also we have to be honest here, the driving force is money,” he said.

Worldwide, the glucose monitoring devices market is expected to be more than $16 billion by the end of this year, according to analysts at Renub Research.

The Google team built the wireless chips in clean rooms, and used advanced engineering to get integrated circuits and a glucose sensor into such a small space.

Researchers also had to build in a system to pull energy from incoming radio frequency waves to power the device enough to collect and transmit one glucose reading per second. The embedded electronics in the lens don’t obscure vision because they lie outside the eye’s pupil and iris.

Google is now looking for partners with experience bringing similar products to market. Google officials declined to say how many people worked on the project, or how much the firm has invested in it.

An early, outsourced clinical research study with real patients was encouraging, but there are many potential pitfalls yet to come, said University of North Carolina diabetes researcher Dr. John Buse, who was briefed by Google on the lens last week.

“This has the potential to be a real game changer,” he said, “but the devil is in the details.”

Among those is figuring out how to correlate glucose levels in tears as compared with blood. And what happens on windy days, while chopping onions or during very sad movies? As with any medical device, it would need to be tested and proved accurate, safe, and at least as good as other types of glucose sensors available now to win FDA approval.

About 35 miles from Google in the beach town of Santa Cruz, high school soccer coach and university senior Michael Vahradian, 21, is ready for less invasive glucose monitoring.

He has been pricking himself up to 10 times a day for the past 17 years. A cellphone-sized pump on his hip attaches to a flexible tube implanted in his stomach which shoots rapid-acting insulin into his body around the clock.

“I remember at first it was really hard to make the needle sticks a habit because it hurt so much,” he said. “And there are still times I don’t want to do it; it hurts and it’s inconvenient. When I’m hanging out with friends, heading down to the beach to body surf or going to lunch, I have to hold everyone up to take my blood sugar.”

Karen Rose Tank, who left her career as an economist to be a health and wellness coach after her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis 18 years ago, also is encouraged that new glucose monitoring methods may be on the horizon.

“It’s really exciting that some of the big tech companies are getting into this market,” she said. “They bring so much ingenuity; they’re able to look outside the box.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Puppies to take part in Vallejo dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
‘Same Time, Next Year’ opens in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

‘We Got Next’ Comedy Tour stops at Dimitri’s

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Man to stand trial in rural Vacaville killing

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Afisivalu announces run for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Tonnesen seeks Fairfield City Council seat

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Family matriarch celebrates 100th birthday

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Barbecue brings big crowd, progress to Parkway Gardens

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 13 Comments | Gallery

Town hall on crime set in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 7 Comments

 
Assist-A-Grad wraps up interviews

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Napa County bridge to close for work

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Crash shuts I-80 offramp to Highway 12

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 4 Comments | Gallery

Weather for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
Suisun City police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Putin’s choice of words shed light on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Who gained, and what, at Ukraine talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Ukrainian unity on display with peaceful rallies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Salmon released in California river restoration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Jury convicts husband in Iraqi woman’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
1 dead, 1 injured in California boating accident

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

BART fined $210,000 for worker deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Military shell prompted evacuation of hundreds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
California health care sign-ups exceed projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Dirty creek, old purse solve four-decade mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3 1/2 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Chelsea Clinton expecting first child this fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Holder: Hate crimes ‘an affront to who we are’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Samples collected from oil slick not from plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

S. Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Peru volcano prompts evacuation of 4,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Nigeria: Fate of 115 abducted girls unknown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Confused, chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Opinion

Internationally out of touch

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

 
Watch out for grandson scam

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

Why so much spent to find a plane?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Food brings back fond memories

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My husband tells our sons that they don’t need to listen to me

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B13

 
Horoscopes for April 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B13

.

Entertainment

Week in preview April 18-24, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘Heaven Is for Real’ heartfelt but dull

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lost radio program featuring Hank Williams found

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
‘Real Housewives’ TV star faces battery charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Ill, hospitalized Miley Cyrus postpones more shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Badminton update: Rodriguez, Armijo head toward post season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
MEL boys roll to easy win over SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Short-handed SCAC girls ‘gut out’ all-star win over MEL

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sharks beat Kings 6-3 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Dodgers get to Bumgarner early for win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Clippers-Warriors series billed as must-see TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Kuchar builds on Masters momentum, shares Heritage lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
War of words in Northwestern-athletes’ union fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Shumenov gets big chance in ring against ageless Hopkins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Montreal team sign Chad Johnson to 2-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Seattle 1B Choi banned 50 games for positive test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Dodgers’ Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Miguel Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Sponsorship woes put Swan Racing future in doubt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Ex-quarterback McNabb spends day in Arizona jail

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Season wrapup: Sacramento Kings’ ‘new era’ off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Boston Marathon makes room for more runners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Stanford takes lead at LPGA LOTTE tournament

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Vanden clinches at least share of SCAC boys tennis title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Toyota Camry gets a top-to-bottom makeover

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Walmart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13