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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A European company is pioneering a bloodless way for people with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels.

Why it matters: More than 5% of the global population is affected by diabetes, and the number is set to keep rising. A more seamless monitoring system would make it easier for people with diabetes to manage their conditions and avoid disastrous health outcomes.

How it works: DiaMonTech is developing machines that use lasers and an optical lens to read glucose levels through the skin photothermally.

  • A user places his finger on the lens for a few seconds, and "wavelengths from the infrared laser are selectively absorbed by the glucose molecules in skin and we detect the small amount of heat that is caused by the absorption," says Thorsten Lubinski, DiaMonTech's CEO.
  • A proprietary algorithm is able to convert those readings into glucose levels.

Background: People with diabetes suffer from problems managing blood sugar levels that stem from their inability or inefficiency of their bodies to produce the glucose-regulating hormone insulin.

  • To combat the disease, they need to frequently monitor their glucose levels to indicate when they have to take insulin or increase their sugar levels.
  • The conventional method involves pricking a finger, sometimes several times a day, to produce blood that can be tested.
  • More advanced continuous monitoring systems reduce or virtually eliminate the need for finger pricking but still require an injected sensor.

What to watch: DiaMonTech has developed a lab-based version of its system that has been certified for medical use in clinics in Europe, and is working on a hand-held device for personal use that Lubinski believes could be ready by 2022.

  • Researchers are also working on a fully functional "artificial pancreas" that could seamlessly monitor glucose levels and dispense insulin as needed, but such devices are still likely years away.

Go deeper

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.