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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

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

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.