We interviewed Cascade Medical after hearing that they had aligned themselves with Boston Advanced Technologies (B.A.T.). B.A.T. recently announced that they had received a grant form NASA to build the first non-invasive blood glucose testing device to go into space. We reached Richard E. Jones, Ph.D., president and CEO of Cascade Medical, at Cascade’s headquarters in Eden Prarie, Minnesota.
Scott King: Who is Cascade Medical?
Dick Jones: Well, you may have heard of us before, or you may not have. We are a relatively young, growing company, and we are presently totally dedicated to the diabetes home testing marketplace. We are the people who designed and manufactured the Answer blood glucose monitoring system. Earlier this year we, as an independent company, regained the worldwide marketing rights to the product under our own trade name, the CheckMate blood glucose monitoring system.
SK: How long do you plan on being in the market?
DJ: Many years. We have the Answer and we have new generation products in development now.
SK: Can you tell us about the new products?
DJ: At this point we are continuing to refine the current product concepts that are in the CheckMate system. Next year we will be coming out with a new monitor that will have several more enhancements over the current system which will still use the same reagent strips.
SK: Your press release mentioned your affiliation with Boston Advanced Technologies, a company that is currently developing a non-invasive blood glucose meter for NASA to be used in space.
DJ: Right. We’re very excited about this. The management of [Cascade Medical] has been involved in the diabetes area for many years and has had an opportunity to view the different developments in research for non-invasive monitors. We’ve concluded that the most promising approaches for non-invasive testing are those which involve the use of near infra-red light measurements through the skin. Of those companies that are currently examining this methodology, we believe that Boston Advanced Technologies is the furthest along in terms of delivering a system which will have the analytical performance that’s needed in the marketplace.
SK: How will the non-invasive monitor work?
DJ: They’re still at the research stage of developing a prototype which we will hope to see next year. It’s quite conceivable that it would be something small, like a flashlight type device that you would just put on the skin and would give you almost instantaneously a read-back of your blood glucose level.
SK: One of their competitors, Futrex, is rumored to have working models in the field in clinical trials. Have you heard that?
DJ: I have read press releases about that. In my opinion, the device that the Boston group is working on has a much higher level of feasibility and is closer to market introduction than what I’ve seen thus far in competitive research programs. I should also mention in the context of these different people that are looking at this technology, that they’re not all using exactly the same approach even though they might all be using infrared light. Boston’s approach is clearly different than some of the others, and based on our review of it, they’re very optimistic about its future.
SK: Tell us about your background?
DJ: I’ve worked about fourteen years in the medical diagnostics industry with a focus on diabetes. Eleven of those years were spent working at Miles Diagnostics, where I was director of diabetes research and development. In 1989, I moved to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and became one of the founders of Cascade Medical.