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Forget fruit, Apple looks set to become a diabetic’s best friend

In great news for the reported 1.2 million Australian adults who suffer from diabetes, tech giant Apple are reportedly working with researchers to develop a new way for diabetics to self-manage their disease.

For a quick brush-up, diabetics either don’t produce enough insulin – the hormone, created by your pancreas, which converts glucose into energy – or any at all.

Since the glucose can’t be converted into energy in a diabetic’s body, it stays in the bloodstream, which can cause serious damage to the body, including blindness, kidney failure, amputation of limbs, and increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Therefore, an important part of self-managing diabetes is a glucose test – the pinprick test you see your diabetic friend do. This test is normally done using a separate testing unit, but Apple want to change that.

Australian Diabetes stats

Working with start-up company Virta, researchers are hoping to eliminate the need for drawing blood by remotely monitoring behaviours of type-2 diabetics using sensors. While not much is currently known about the project, CNBC spoke to “three people familiar with the matter”, one of whom led them to reach the conclusion that “Apple is developing optical sensors, which involves shining a light through the skin to measure indications of glucose.”

This isn’t the first time that Apple has been associated with diabetes research. Back in 2010, a biotech company Sanofi Aventis announced a device called the iBGStar, which was designed to plug into your iPhone or iPod Touch. Although the device appears to have been short-lived, it’s interesting we’re trying to adapt this technology into our lives.

As rates of diagnosis for diabetes continues to grow globally, there appears to be a niche market for new ways to manage diabetes. Being able to stick a sensor on your skin and monitor your glucose levels from your iPhone would be revolutionary for sufferers and families alike, as it would remove the need for mildly invasive procedures.

It would also be helpful for your GP and researchers to get more information about the way different types of diabetes affect people.

About the author

Adelaide has been writing about video games and tech for 5 years. She calls herself a “quasi-professional nerd” due to the immense amount of nerdy stuff that fills her house, including a life-size CL4P-TP

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