Eye On The Future: MiniMed’s Indwelling Glucose Sensor

MiniMed is developing a glucose monitoring system that the company hopes will revolutionize self-care.

The sensor, worn like an insulin pump, is designed to continuously monitor blood glucose levels. The device would warn patients with both an audible alarm and a flashing marker on a display screen when blood glucose levels rise too high or fall too low. The sensor would be an especially effective tool during sleep hours, since it would sound an alarm to awaken the wearer. The device would be beneficial for people with type I and II diabetes.

According to MiniMed’s prospectus, “The thin, pliable microsensor would provide little, if any, patient discomfort.” The relatively pain-free monitoring would replace finger sticks. Each microsensor is expected to last three days, after which time it would be replaced with another sensor in another area of the abdomen.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that MiniMed’s sensor will be available any time soon. Stage I of the human sensor trials was completed in January 1995, and Stage II will begin in early 1996. The studies are intended to confirm the performance of the sensor, and commercialization of the device is not expected to happen before 1998.

Once research is complete, FDA approval will take time. According to Cliff Hague, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at MiniMed, “A dedicated team is in place, and the sensor is a major priority for MiniMed.”

One of the company’s long-term goals is to develop a sensor that will automatically activate an insulin pump, giving the patient even more control within a “closed-loop” system. Says Hague, “In essence, this would be an artificial pancreas.”

As of November 22, 1995, MiniMed’s stock was trading at $10/even share, with a 52-week high of 13 1/2, and a low of 7 3/4.

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