When we think about Medtronic MiniMed,insulin pumps usually come to mind. Thatmakes sense, because MiniMed was amongthe first to market an insulin pump and todaydominates the U.S. market with more than a70 percent share.
Medtronic MiniMed’s monitor business ismuch less well known, but it will potentiallyhelp many more people with diabetes. Thecompany was the first to offer a monitorto continuously sense glucose levels ininterstitial fluid, the Continuous GlucoseMonitoring System or CGMS.
The CGMS has serious limitations. Althoughit records glucose levels every five minutesfor up to three days, it’s not really a homeunit, because you have to go to your doctor’soffice to download the readings.
With its second monitor, the Paradigm Link,Medtronic MiniMed connects pumps andmonitors for the first time. This is the firstmonitor for wireless communication withinsulin pumps, the Paradigm 515 and 715pumps.
The Paradigm Link is a blood glucose meter,not a continuous monitor. But the CGMS andthe Paradigm Link are just the beginning.The company is working now on three moremonitors, and all of them will continuouslysense glucose levels.
The first of these monitors, the GuardianContinuous Glucose Monitoring System, willprobably become available in the next fewmonths. The Guardian will sound an alarmwhen your glucose levels go too high or toolow.
But the Guardian won’t display any readingson the screen or show your glucosetrend. That will have to wait for MedtronicMiniMed’s next monitor, the Guardian RT.
Those letters “RT” stand for “real time.” The Guardian RT system is a personal continuous glucose monitoring system, providing realtime glucose values and adjustable alarmlevels.
Medtronic MiniMed will sell the Guardian RTonly in Canada and Europe. That’s becausethe company plans to provide an even morepowerful monitor here. It doesn’t have aname yet, but the company is referring to itas the “next generation Guardian System.”
This next generation monitor will not onlyprovide real-time results and adjustablealarms for highs and lows, it will also trendgraphs. The company will offer it in theUnited States, Canada and Europe.
Getting it just right takes time. The nextgeneration Guardian won’t be availablethis year, says Deanne McLaughlin,communications manager for MedtronicDiabetes. Maybe in 2006, she says.
The company’s goal has always been tobuild a closed-loop artificial pancreas. It willcombine an insulin pump with a continuousglucose monitor, which will provide feedbackto the pump telling it to deliver just the rightamount of insulin in response to the glucoselevel that the monitor detects. The nextgeneration Guardian will move much closerto that goal.
The Continuous Advantage
Having real-time glucose readings is like watching a feature film for the first time after a lifetime of seeing only still frames. With real-time data, we can learn about the effects of diet and exercise on our glucose control. Furthermore, we can take action earlierto reduce the severity and duration of glucose levels that are too high or too low.
Real-time readings come from monitors, not meters, in Medtronic MiniMed’s terminology. A meter takes a snapshot of your blood glucose level at one point in time. It is random and you can’t be sure when to test. But when you use a continuous glucose monitor, you are testing all the time and get a moving picturethat correlates with your life.