Diagnosing And Monitoring Type 1 and 2 Diabetes

By Live Dr - Sun Feb 06, 1:00 pm

SCIENTISTS from Newcastle and Oxford are collaborating to create devices which will make the process of diagnosing and monitoring Type 1 and 2 diabetes a less painful experience for those being tested.

Oxford Medical Diagnostics is developing products which give a reading of the levels of acetone in breath when blown into, creating an alternative to the traditional diabetes testing method of pricking a finger and analysing the blood.

The at-patient device developed by Oxford Medical Diagnostics

The at-patient device developed by Oxford Medical Diagnostics

A device designed for use by GPs and other medical professionals is expected to hit the market in the next six to eight months after finishing clinical trials, while a more affordable handheld device for home monitoring could be available within a couple of years.

Oxford Medical Diagnostics was formed in 2008, but the current set-up is the result of a merger between Oxford Medical Diagnostics, experts in Broadband Cavity Enhanced Absorption Scectroscopy from Oxford University and North East handheld breath-testing start-up EV (Medical Screening).

EV (Medical Screening) was set up in 2008 and specialised in the development of Plasma Emission Spectroscopy to analyse compounds in human breath. It was set up by former IBM director and current OMD chairman John Jack, and founders included Northumbria University’s Tim Moor and University of Newcastle emeritus professor of physics Albert Crowe.

OMD chairman John Jack said: “In 40 years of international business this is without doubt one of the most exciting business opportunities with which I have been associated.”

OMD has received £90,000 from Northstar Ventures as well as grant funding totalling £300,000 from One North East, and raised a further £934,000 from management and business angels last summer.

While the at-patient breath analyser is being developed in Oxford, the handheld device is being handled at Newcastle’s INEX incubator. The OMD team includes former Oxford head of physical and theoretical chemistry Gus Hancock. Diabetes affects one in 20 people in the world, and can lead to serious conditions such as blindness and heart disease if left untreated.

OMD technical officer Tom Blaikie said: “There’s a team of five working in Oxford and a team of five in Newcastle, as well as a very qualified scientific advisory panel. The technologies being developed are complementary, so there’s a lot of room for collaboration. We’re constantly in touch and visiting each other.

“We’re hoping to replace blood testing and invasive means of screening for diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can be fatal and lead to complications such as amputations. The finger prick is something most people absolutely dread, but this will make it more pleasant for people to monitor their diabetes.”

The technology works by analysing the levels of acetone in breath down to as little as one part per million. Acetone builds up as diabetics cannot regulate their blood glucose level, and the body burns fat instead of sugar. This releases acetone which is expelled from the body in breath.

OMD also plans to adapt this technology as a lifestyle product, which can be used to determine when fat is being burned during exercise. The company is also looking at industrial gas analysis, as well as the detection of other elements in breath. Blaikie said: “Acetone is just one of the biomarkers in breath for certain conditions. For example, raised levels of methane could indicate small intestinal bacterial overdose, while nitric oxide could be a biomarker for asthma.”


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