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Monday, December 18

Diabetes, More Deadlier than Aids

For those who didn't catch it last week, this is a jaw-dropper all right: worldwide, diabetes now claims more lives per year than even our most-feared modern-day epidemic, AIDS.

Diabetes now affects 5.9 percent of the world's adult population and accounts for 3.8 million deaths aEpidemic year, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), at its annual World Diabetes Congress earlier this month in Cape Town, South Africa.

In fact, the IDF warned -- get this -- that the expected explosion of diabetes worldwide may threaten global economic advancement, as its prevalence will disproportionably disturb the economies of low and middle-income countries.

Forgive my tardiness in passing on these shocking facts due to the inevitable self-absorption of a comforable Westernized lifestyle at the Holiday Season. Ugh...

Here are some more grim statistics to reflect on as we prepare for our Season of Plenty:

In Mozambique, to take one poor nation for example, type 1 patients typically die about a year after diagnosis because insulin is too hard to obtain reliably.

According to the IDF, the global cost of diabetes treatment and prevention will rise to more than $302.5 billion by 2025. While the majority of people living with diabetes in 2025 will be in low and middle-income countries, these countries account for less than 15% of global diabetes prevention and care spending.

By comparison, the US accounts for more than 50% of global diabetes spending, even though it's home to only 8% of the world’s population living with diabetes. And as analyst Kelly Close points out (who travelled to Capetown to cover the congress live): "if 8% seems like an epidemic to us, you can imagine what it feels like elsewhere, where good treatments can't be counted on for a second."

Speaking of the economic burdens of diabetes, did anyone catch this New York Times article a few weeks ago -- The Neediest Cases; Finding Help to Bear the Load as the Burdens of Diabetes Pile Up? This one relates the tale of the struggling Monroe family in Brooklyn, who've lost lives and limb to "the sugar," as they call it. Learn more about the types of diabetes.

Luckily, this family was aided by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, a 95-year-old Fund set up by the newspaper's publisher to help the most downtrodden in his city back in 1911. It seems that the 2006-2007 fundtraising campaign began in early November, and runs through Feb. 9, 2007.

If you happen to be a New Yorker or have a desire to help out, you can donate to The Neediest Cases Fund here. Or you can donate to the IDF Life for a Child with Diabetes Fund here. A drop in the bucket, to be sure, but doing something is always better than doing nothing (as the diabetes tidal wave crashes forward).

Sources: Bloomberg , Diabetes Mine

Thursday, December 14

"Real -Time" Insulin Pump & Glucose Monitoring

Medtronic, Inc. today announced FDA approval of the MiniMed Paradigm® REAL-Time Insulin Pump and Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, a progressive new therapy available for patients who use insulin to treat diabetes.

For the first time in the history of diabetes management, an insulin pump integrates with REAL-Time continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). This new technology will help patients take immediate corrective or preventive action to maintain healthy glucose levels and delay or prevent diabetes-related complications, including coma, blindness, kidney failure, amputation, impotence, and heart disease.

The MiniMed Paradigm REAL-Time System is made up of two components, a REAL-Time Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System, and a MiniMed Paradigm insulin pump. The REAL-Time CGM System relays glucose readings every five minutes from a glucose sensor to the insulin pump, which displays to 288 readings a day – nearly 100 times more information than three daily fingersticks. REAL-time glucose information displayed on the insulin pump allows patients to take immediate action to improve their glucose control after taking a confirmatory fingerstick. The REAL-Time CGM System component is indicated for any patient 18 years of age or older, and insulin pump therapy for all patients requiring insulin.

“The approval of the MiniMed Paradigm REAL-Time System opens the door to the next generation of diabetes management,” said Robert Guezuraga, president, Medtronic Diabetes. “As this is the first integrated insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system ever approved, we feel this new therapy will revolutionize the way patients manage their diabetes and will improve their lives.”

Integrating an insulin pump with REAL-Time CGM is a major step toward the development of a “closed-loop” insulin delivery system that may one day mimic some functions of the human pancreas. Medtronic is testing future systems that would employ advanced scientific algorithms to proactively recommend insulin dosages to patients. Through this process, Medtronic anticipates developing an external, closed-loop system designed to simplify and improve patient diabetes management.