How your smartphone could help treat diabetes

The speed at which new technology is produced and released onto the market may be over-whelming to many of us.

Can anyone actually keep up with the blistering pace of all these new ‘smart’ devices? From voice activated TVs to, believe it or not, fridges that can actually take photos of the inside and send them to your phone, so you’re never caught unawares.

While all of these advances are pretty clever, they aren’t really life changing. Fortunately, these technological wonders aren’t all about taking photos of the milk and cheese in your fridge.

A new study, conducted by scientists at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, has put this ‘smart’ technology to use in helping to manage diabetes.

The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, outlined how mouse cells were genetically engineered to produce blood sugar controlling molecules, in this case insulin, in response to light.

These cells were combined with wireless LED lights, controlled from a smartphone app, and implanted into mice.

In response to the light, the engineered cells would release insulin into the blood and subsequently lower blood sugar levels – at a much faster rate than if you were to follow current methods of administering insulin.

And although this was a very preliminary experiment, the results are no less impressive, offering hope for many diabetics.

The health technology industry is booming – with new start-ups opening all the time. A couple of examples include the care app, Vida, which provides personalised carers to match the specific needs of the patient, and Thriva, which uses a pin-prick testing kit to assess baseline levels of cholesterol, liver function, iron and vitamin D, followed by personalised feedback from a GP.

The preliminary findings of this latest diabetes study, combined with other health tech innovations, could herald a new age of totally personalised and automated medicine, not just limited to diabetes.

Commenting on the research, Prof Mark Gomelsky, molecular biologist at the University of Wyoming, called it an “exciting accomplishment”.

Adding, the work “provides us with an exciting glimpse into the future of smart cell-based therapeutics”.

Let’s hope the health technology industry continues to give us more optimism for the future!

Wishing you the best of health,

Dominic Rees
Editorial Health Researcher