Google, Dexcom Team
Google, Dexcom Team up to dramatically improve CGMs. Dexcom and Google announced that they have joined forces to develop a next generation of continuous glucose monitors (CGM) that will be smaller and less expensive than current offerings. The vision is a flexible, low-cost, bandage-like, disposable CGM product (approximately the size of a dime!) worn for 10-14 days. It would likely communicate to a nearby smartphone app, allowing very convenient viewing of glucose data. The goal is for a first version to launch in two to three years, with a follow-up product to come out within five years. We aren’t sure yet if this device would require finger-stick calibrations, or whether it would display different data than current CGM offerings (i.e., real-time glucose value every five minutes, trend arrow).
The agreement leverages Dexcom’s industry-leading CGM sensor accuracy with Google’s expertise in miniaturizing electronics and data analytics. Google’s background having five different technology platforms (Google search, YouTube, Android, Chrome, and Google Maps) each with over one billion users unquestionably brings tremendous potential to better use data and create an amazing user experience. Dexcom ultimately hopes these next-generation products could make CGM more user-friendly and less obtrusive, helping to extend the technology into more type 1 diabetes patients and far beyond into type 2 diabetes, hospitals, gestational diabetes, and perhaps even pre-diabetes. (Wouldn’t it be amazing if anyone at risk for diabetes could pick up a Dexcom/Google CGM bandage at Walgreens and get real-time CGM data and know their risk without waiting for a blood test? That is speculation on our part, but perhaps not so far-fetched.)
Today’s news will not affect Dexcom’s current CGM products in development:
- The Gen 5 transmitter and mobile app is still expected to launch this year. This will enable users to get CGM data on an iPhone without a receiver.
- The Gen 6 sensor is expected to launch in 2017, featuring 10-day wear and only one needed finger-stick calibration per day.
This new partnership has the potential to meaningfully expand the number of patients using continuous glucose monitoring, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes. According to diabetes market research company dQ&A, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients cite three major barriers that prevent them from using CGM: (i) having a device attached to their body, or having to carry around another device; (ii) high out-of-pocket costs; and (iii) hassle factor. While it’s too soon to know exactly how small this new Dexcom/Google product will be, or what it will cost, we have high hopes given the collective brainpower of these two impressive companies and the stellar leadership behind them (including Dexcom CEO, Kevin Sayer and Head of Life Sciences at Google, Andrew Conrad).
For context, Google first publically entered the diabetes scene back in January of 2014, when it announced its ambitious venture to develop a contact lens that could non-invasively monitor glucose levels from tears. Later that year, Google then teamed up with Novartis – bringing expertise from the eye-care field – to help make this product a reality. Google secured a patent for the device in April of this year, though it’s still likely several years away from commercialization. This new Dexcom agreement is separate from the contact lens project. It’s certainly encouraging to see Google investing in diabetes with these two partnerships, and Dexcom’s management continues to impress with the speed at which they moved to make this agreement a reality, as we understand this deal was put together in a relatively short period of time.
This is not a cure for diabetes, but it will probably be an improvement in blood glucose control for many people following the typical werstern lifestyle. Until we have a cure for type 1 diabetes, it is our opinion that mastering this disease in the healthiest way possible through lifestyle innovations as a priority over drug therapies is vital. It is important for optimal blood sugar control today, but it can help put your body in a position of strength for tomorrow – for that day when the cure for type 1 diabetes may be found.
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