Enabling diabetes patients to sleep soundly

Excess insulin levels can be fatal when they occur at night. NightSense aims to remove the fear.

Gadi Kan-Tor, Yoav Kan-Tor and Shy Hefetz have developed a number of medical devices in the past, most of which are related to diabetes treatment. Gadi Kan-Tor, who himself suffers from diabetes, served as a volunteer guinea pig for product trials. NightSense, a product that aims to immediately detect sudden drops in blood-sugar levels (hypoglycemia) during the night may be their first product to break through the technological barrier and reach the market.

The market

Worldwide, there are an estimated 200,000 severe hypoglycemic attacks every day. One in every 20 juvenile diabetes sufferers will die from hypoglycemia, which occurs when more insulin is injected than the body needs. In such cases, insulin flushes sugar from the body faster than the patient can produce it. Most of the severe cases of hypoglycemia occur at night. If the patient feels distress during the day, he or she can quickly eat something sweet, which improves the condition. But, someone who feels tired at the end of the day is likely to attribute the sensation to a need for sleep. The symptoms of hypoglycemia only wake the patient when they are extremely severe. At this point, in certain cases, the patient may be too weak to get out of bed and eat. Such attacks generally lead to hospitalization, until proper blood-sugar levels are re-established.

Among insulin-dependent diabetics, hypoglycemic episodes occur two to three times a year. Doctors try to balance insulin and glucose levels - not enough insulin causes dangerous rises in blood-sugar levels, too much insulin causes hypoglycemia. We spoke to doctors and they told us that they prescribe lower insulin doses than the patient really needs, due to their fear of its negative effects during the night, says Kan-Tor. However, this precaution has a price: daily blood-sugar levels are higher than they should be, and this causes damage to various organs and limbs, such as kidneys, eyes, and extremities.

The doctors said - if you solve the night problem, we will be able to give the correct dosage, he added. There are invasive continuous blood-sugar monitors on the market that could solve the problem, but they are expensive and uncomfortable. The goal of NightSense is to perform the test in a non-invasive manner.

The product

The goal of the product is to alert the patient when there is an impending hypoglycemic attack, not by monitoring actual blood-sugar levels, but rather by sensing changes in body movement. During the day, the patient can recognize hypoglycemia at the level that requires that he or she should eat something sweet. During the night, as mentioned, there is no guarantee that such an event will wake the patient.

The product is shaped like a watch, and is covered with sensors. It is programmed to analyze subtle changes in the movement of the patients hand, which indicate changes in pulse and heart activity. There are ten motions that are recognized by doctors as being affected by hypoglycemia. Not every patient will exhibit the same symptoms, nor will they exhibit them with the same intensity. Therefore, we customize the product for each individual patient, according to his or her classic gestures when lying still, says Kan-Tor. It is important to make sure that there are not too many false alarms, otherwise patients will not be able to sleep at night. On the other hand, if the patients fall into a deep sleep and rely upon the device to alert them when there is a problem, it is critical that it not fail, under any circumstances. The product is currently in the prototype stage.

Financing

The company received $200,000 from the Tnufa fund, along with an additional investment from the founders. The company is currently seeking further funding.

The next step

In a few months, the company is meant to begin clinical trials.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 5, 2013

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

 
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