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Many companies in the life science space are looking for ways to help people with diabetes, and one area in which big strides are currently being made is diabetes testing. Companies involved in the space are looking at different ways of testing and monitoring blood sugar, and even at pre-screening for the disease. Here’s a look at a number of companies making good progress in that arena.

Unlike many diseases, diabetes is one most people have likely heard of before. However, not everyone is aware of just what diabetes entails. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes diabetes as a chronic disease that’s caused either by the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or by the body not being able to effectively use the insulin it produces. The former is referred to as Type 1 diabetes, while the latter is called Type 2 diabetes. Both are problematic due to the fact that insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar; not having it, or not being able to use it properly, can cause major problems.

Unfortunately, diabetes is a widespread issue that is becoming ever more common. Last year, 9 percent of adults over 18 years of age were estimated to be affected by it, according to the WHO, and in 2012 the organization estimates that 1.5 million deaths were caused by the disease. It’s expected to be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030.

With those statistics in mind, it’s no wonder many companies in the life science space are looking for ways to help people with diabetes. One area in which big strides are currently being made is diabetes testing — companies involved in the space are looking at different ways of testing and monitoring blood sugar, and even at pre-screening for the disease. Here’s a look at a number of companies making good progress in that arena.

Pre-screening

Canada’s Miraculins (TSXV:MOM) is a pre-revenue biotechnology company that’s focused on acquiring, developing and commercializing non-invasive diagnostic and risk assessment tests aimed at helping physicians diagnose diseases earlier. One of its key programs is the Scout DS® Diabetes Screen, which screens for risk of diabetes without the use of needles, drawing blood, fasting or waiting.

The technology is designed to allow people to quickly and easily find out if they are at risk for diabetes. If they are, the idea is that they will then follow up on their results with a physician. Most recently, the company announced that it’s provided the US Food and Drug Administration with pre-submission documentation regarding the de novo classification for the Scout DS® Diabetes Screen. The move is a step toward gaining marketing clearance in the US.

Pumps and glucose monitors

Those looking to manage diabetes require a variety of tools, and many companies have moved to make them available. One is Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), a global healthcare solutions company that focuses in part on diabetes services and solutions. Its areas of expertise include insulin pump therapy, continuous glucose monitoring systems and therapy management software.

Another key player is German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer (ETR:BAYN). The company has diverse areas of focus, but like Medtronic has a division related to diabetes. It offers blood glucose monitoring systems and states on its website that Glucobay™, an oral diabetes treatment, is one of its best-selling pharmaceutical products.

The future

Of course, while diagnosing and managing diabetes are important, some companies are looking towards the future.

Vancouver-based M Pharmaceutical (CSE:MQ) is doing just that. It’s looking to operate as a medical device company and is focusing on the design, development and commercialization of a minimally invasive glucose monitoring product. That product, called the SMBG Mosquito, is aimed at replacing typical finger-pricking devices — though the company admits they provide accurate results, it also sees them as “painful and inconvenient.”

Another company looking to change the face of the diabetes scene is Dexcom (NASDAQ:DXCM). Its continuous glucose monitoring devices allow those with diabetes to receive real-time glucose readings throughout the day and night. Though its products do not eliminate the need for blood glucose meter readings, Dexcom believes that they allow users to make more informed treatment decisions and enjoy improved glucose control.

The upshot

The companies mentioned above merely provide a snapshot of the different ways investors can move into the diabetes space. Those interested in the arena would do well to look further into these companies and their contemporaries.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

Related reading: 

Diabetes: An Introduction

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