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Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes

Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes

Why Google Is Going All In On Diabetes

Millions of people with diabetes prick a finger more than five times a day to monitor their blood glucose levels. It's a painful and expensive process.
But now, Google's Life Sciences division is putting its immense resources behind new initiatives aimed at helping them better live with the disease.
"It's really hard for people to manage their blood sugar," said Jacquelyn Miller, a Google Life Sciences spokeswoman, in an interview with KQED. "We're hoping to take some of the guesswork out of it."
Earlier this week the new Google Life Sciences unit announced that diabetes is the company's first major disease target. It may come as a surprise that Google, a company that helps people search online for flights and restaurants and dabbles in other ventures like self-driving cars, is investing in new therapies to treat disease.
But according to Michael Chae, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter at the American Diabetes Association, Google's decision is a no-brainer. It's a highly lucrative opportunity. In 2012, the total cost of managing diabetes was put at $245 billion in the U.S. alone. The timing also appears just right for technology companies to enter the field.
"There's been an explosion of wearables, data and analytics," Chae said. "People with diabetes are more comfortable living in a measured world."
He envisions a future where people with diabetes can measure their blood glucose levels on a continuous basis, using painless methods. One of Google's emerging products is a contact lens embedded with a glitter-sized sensor that can measure glucose levels Continue reading

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'I beat type 2 diabetes with 200-calorie drinks'

'I beat type 2 diabetes with 200-calorie drinks'

Nearly half of patients have reversed type 2 diabetes in a "watershed" trial, say doctors in Newcastle and Glasgow.
People spent up to five months on a low-calorie diet of soups and shakes to trigger massive weight loss.
Isobel Murray, 65, who had weighed 15 stone, lost over four stone (25kg) and no longer needs diabetes pills. She says: "I've got my life back."
The charity Diabetes UK says the trial is a landmark and has the potential to help millions of patients.
Isobel, from Largs in North Ayrshire, was one of 298 people on the trial.
Her blood sugar levels were too high, and every time she went to the doctors they increased her medication.
So, she went on to the all-liquid diet for 17 weeks - giving up cooking and shopping. She even ate apart from her husband, Jim.
Instead, she had four liquid meals a day.
It is hardly Masterchef - a sachet of powder is stirred in water to make a soup or shake. They contain about 200 calories, but also the right balance of nutrients.
Isobel told the BBC it was relatively easy as "you don't have to think about what you eat".
Once the weight has been lost, dieticians then help patients introduce healthy, solid meals.
"Eating normal food is the hardest bit," says Isobel.
The trial results, simultaneously published in the Lancet medical journal and presented at the International Diabetes Federation, showed:
46% of patients who started the trial were in remission a year later
86% who lost 15kg (2st 5lb) or more put their type 2 diabetes into remission
Only 4% went into remission with the best treatments currently used
Prof Roy Taylor, from N Continue reading

'Smart' insulin hope for diabetes

'Smart' insulin hope for diabetes

Scientists are hopeful that "smart" insulins which are undergoing trials could revolutionise the way diabetes is managed.
Instead of repeated blood tests and injections throughout the day to keep blood sugar in check, a single dose of smart insulin would keep circulating in the body and turn on when needed.
Animal studies show the technology appears to work - at least in mice.
Scientists plan to move to human trials soon, PNAS journal reports.
Experts caution that it will take years of testing before treatments could become a reality for patients.
Smart insulin
People with type 1 diabetes, who either do not make or cannot use their own natural insulin, rely on insulin injections to stay well.
Without these, their blood sugar would get dangerously high.
But injecting insulin can also make blood sugar levels dip too low, and people with type 1 diabetes must regularly check their blood glucose levels to make sure they are in the right zone.
Diabetes experts have been searching for ways to make blood sugar control easier and more convenient for patients, which is where "smart" insulins come in.
There are a few different types in development, but all are designed to automatically activate when blood sugar gets too high and switch off again when it returns to normal.
Dr Danny Chou from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been testing a smart insulin that he and his colleagues developed in the lab.
It is a chemically modified version of regular, long-acting insulin.
It has an extra set of molecules stuck on the end that binds it to proteins that circulate in the bloodstr Continue reading

'Giant leap' to type 1 diabetes cure

'Giant leap' to type 1 diabetes cure

The hunt for a cure for type 1 diabetes has recently taken a "tremendous step forward", scientists have said.
The disease is caused by the immune system destroying the cells that control blood sugar levels.
A team at Harvard University used stem cells to produce hundreds of millions of the cells in the laboratory.
Tests on mice showed the cells could treat the disease, which experts described as "potentially a major medical breakthrough".
Beta cells in the pancreas pump out insulin to bring down blood sugar levels.
But the body's own immune system can turn against the beta cells, destroying them and leaving people with a potentially fatal disease because they cannot regulate their blood sugar levels.
It is different to the far more common type 2 diabetes which is largely due to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Perfect cocktail
The team at Harvard was led by Prof Doug Melton who began the search for a cure when his son was diagnosed 23 years ago. He then had a daughter who also developed type 1.
He is attempting to replace the approximately 150 million missing beta cells, using stem cell technology.
He found the perfect cocktail of chemicals to transform embryonic stem cells into functioning beta cells.
Tests on mice with type 1 diabetes, published in the journal Cell, showed that the lab-made cells could produce insulin and control blood sugar levels for several months.
Dr Melton said: "It was gratifying to know that we could do something that we always thought was possible.
"We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line."
However, his children were not quite so im Continue reading

'Youngest' toddler with type 2 diabetes raises concern

'Youngest' toddler with type 2 diabetes raises concern

The case of a three-year-old girl in the US who developed type 2 diabetes has driven doctors to raise fresh concerns about diet in childhood.
The child had a version of the illness more commonly seen in older people.
She weighed 35 kg (5.5 stone) when she saw specialists. And experts believe an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise played a large role in her condition.
The case is being discussed at this month's annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
'Incorrect assumptions'
In the UK only 2% of children with diabetes have type 2 and the youngest patients on record are aged between five and nine.
Most children are instead diagnosed with type 1, a condition unrelated to lifestyle - where the immune system mistakenly attacks cells responsible for blood sugar control.
But type 2 diabetes is increasing across the world, fuelled in part by a rising tide of obesity.
Dr Michael Yafi at the University of Texas Health Science Center, one of the first specialists to see the toddler, warns young children with the condition may be being missed because of the incorrect assumption they are too young to develop it.
He added: "I'm very vigilant and screen all obese children I see for signs of the disease but I was surprised to find it in someone so young.
"The case is probably the youngest reported but with no global register it is hard to be sure."
He says an early diagnosis, changes to lifestyle and in some cases medication can give children better odds of remaining healthy and sometimes reverse the condition.
The Hispanic girl was been given treatment and her Continue reading

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