A Decade of Development for SMSI: Will it lead to Improved Accuracy in CGM?
This article was originally published in Start Up
The mission of ten-year old company Sensors for Medicine & Science is to develop a sensor that would obviate the need for patients with diabetes to extract blood or fluid samples for testing. Implanted under the skin, the SMSI sensor is continuously immersed in interstitial fluid containing glucose and provides frequent glucose readings. It thus has the potential to become the cornerstone of a new continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system, one that works very differently than the early-generation systems on the market today. Part of a group of articles that includes: "Where are They Now? Checking in on Three Glucose Monitoring Companies," "Pelikan Swoops in on the Big Four" and "GlucoLight: Making Non-Invasive Glucose Monitoring Real."
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It's the end of a dynasty in the traditional market for self blood glucose testing--the test strips and hand-held monitors that patients have been using as the mainstay of their diabetes management. The four major companies, once differentiated players in a high growth market, have cut R&D and marketing budgets in the face of increasing commoditization. But a new era in continuous glucose monitoring has begun, and that sector is poised to grow in coming years, according to "US Markets for Diabetes Management Products," a report published in May 2009 by the Medtech Insight division of Elsevier Business Intelligence.
Small company DexCom, finds itself a leader in continuous glucose monitoring, the hottest new segment of glucose monitoring, a business otherwise dominated by giant companies. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is all the buzz at diabetes and critical care clinical meetings these days. CGM systems give diabetic patients in the home (or the hospital) glucose readings at any hour of the day without the need to get out the finger-stick testing paraphernalia. More than that, though, CGM is a new tool for achieving tight glycemic control, and avoiding the excursions above and below the normal glucose levels, which are responsible for the hospitalizations as well as the long-term harmful consequences of diabetes. As a frontrunner in the field, DexCom shares with Medtronic the challenge of proving the value of CGM to payers, especially since the task involves throwing over the gold standard by which successful glycemic control is measured-the HbA1c test.
Laying out a strategy is one thing; executing it is another. That's why, from time to time, START-UP revisits companies it has written about in the past to find out what went according to plan, and what didn't. As we revisit the field of glucose monitoring--a field with a high attrition rate, we'll see if we can draw out some lessons, both from the successes and from the failures, for those starting out today. (Introduction to three separate articles in the December 2007 issue: "Pelikan Technologies Swoops in on the Big Four"; "A Decade of Development for SMSI: Will It Yield Improved Accuracy in CGM?" and "GlucoLight Makes Non-invasive Glucose Monitoring Real.")