Thursday, January 12, 2006

Israeli device to help Diabetic patients


Integrity Applications' GlucoTrack is a non-invasive, triple cross-checking device for measuring blood glucose levels.Diabetes now affects approximately 7% of the world’s population. As of today, over 190 million people have diabetes, and the disease is spreading worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the proportion of diabetics has grown substantially worldwide, and the number of patients in the Middle East also is expected to double by 2025.

Source: Globes

Diabetics have to cope with multiple daily injections to measure their blood sugar level, and balance it accordingly. The process is painful, uncomfortable, bothersome, and in some cases causes paralysis in the fingertips. Because of the pain of injections, many diabetics forego measuring their glucose level as often as they should, which results in a cumulative imbalance, complications, and a high cost to their health.

Anyone who personally knows a diabetic knows that they and their families have for years yearned for an elegant non-invasive solution that would relieve them of the painful routine of repeated injections. Numerous non-invasive devices have been developed over the years, including wrist monitors, which promise to solve the problem. But the good news has turned out to be false hope, because the measurements were imprecise and the devices had to be frequently recalibrated, ultimately forcing the manufacturer to recall them.

The result is a growing market need for a non-invasive device for diabetics. A group of Israeli entrepreneurs spotted this market niche and founded Integrity Applications Ltd. in September 2001. The company set a goal of developing an innovative, reliable and accurate non-invasive device for measuring blood glucose levels. The result is GlucoTrack.

Integrity Applications co-founder CEO Avner Gal, who is a candidate for the entrepreneur of the year award 2005/06, says one of GlucoTrack’s unique features is its reliance on integrating three independent technologies.

“Globes”: Why are three separate measuring technologies needed?

Gal: “The human body is a complex target, as well as that demands extreme accuracy. We understood from the outset that using only one measuring technology would be inadequate. Optimal accuracy can only be achieved by using a number of separate and cross-checking measuring methods. It should be noted that we have a US registered patent for the combination of the three technologies and the processing algorithm that supports them. We’re now registering the patent in other countries.”

Are there competitors to GlucoTrack?

“Of course. Both the clear need for a non-invasive measuring solution and the huge market ($6-9 billion a year) translate into a situation where everyone wants to be, and reap the fruits. Dozens of companies sprang up using optical measuring technologies, which failed in practice. As of today, ten companies worldwide are trying to develop a solution, but we’re unaware of any product likely to reach the market in the foreseeable future.”

What makes GlucoTrack different? What’s its advantage over similar products?

“In addition to its high level of accuracy, our device has a huge advantage in calibration. Whereas similar devices require frequent recalibration, ranging from every few hours to every few days, GlucoTrack only has to be recalibrated once a month, by a simple, easy-to-use way. In addition, to the best of our knowledge, our product is the only one on the market that makes spot checks. In other words, the results appearing on the screen reflect glucose levels at the time of the measurement, just like a conventional glucometer. The next-generation device will include both spot checks and continuous measurements.”

Have regulators approved the product?

“The European regulator has approved formal procedures, and it is now undergoing approval procedures at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The next stage is to gather clinical data at several sites worldwide, after which formal approval will come.”

At what stage of development are you?

“Two generations of prototypes have been developed so far, and their results in preliminary clinical trials are very promising. The final model has already been developed, and we now making 100 units for official clinical trials. We expect a market launch in Israel and Europe in the second half of 2006, and a year later in the US.”

How much money has been invested in developing GlucoTrack?

“Almost $2 million has been invested so far, without taking into account, the months of work without pay, or only token pay.”

That’s not a lot, compared with investments in competing products. How do you explain it?

“We were, and are, very modest, calculating, and scrupulous about small and large expenditures alike since founding the company. We took care to honor investors’ money, and not go out and party at their expense. Money invested until now has gone solely to net R&D needs. In other words, our approach was to avoid reinventing the wheel, and to concentrate on applications.”

What characterizes your investors? Will you seek more investors?

“Bucking normal practice, Integrity Applications focuses on private investors, and we intend to continue this approach. We’re now holding another financing round of $1.5 million, which ought to be our last round. We prefer strategic investors with strategic capabilities.”

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