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Sanofi, Google to Partner on Diabetes Care, Devices

Contact lens with sensors

Prototype contact lens with sensors to detect and measure glucose levels in tears (Google Inc.)

31 August 2015. The pharmaceutical company Sanofi is collaborating with Google’s life sciences teams to develop technologies for improving the care of people with diabetes. Financial and intellectual property details of the partnership were not disclosed.

Diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas does not create enough insulin to process the sugar glucose to flow into the blood stream and cells for energy in the body. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder where the pancreas produces some, but not enough insulin, or the body cannot process insulin, and accounts for some 90 percent of all diabetes cases. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body is tricked into producing little or no insulin. According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes affects 387 million people worldwide, of which 39 million are in North America.

The two companies plan to bring together their respective experiences to help people with diabetes better manage their conditions, reduce risks of complications, and improve outcomes. Sanofi, based in Paris, offers its expertise in developing diabetes treatments. The company has a number of diabetes management products on the market, including Afreeza, a form of insulin administered as an inhalation powder.

Google is contributing its experience with analytics and miniaturized electronics. One of Google’s current R&D projects is a smart contact lens with sensors built-in for analyzing the composition of tears to gauge blood glucose levels of people with diabetes. In July 2014, as reported in Science & Enterprise, Google licensed intellectual property rights to the smart contact lens to the pharmaceutical company Novartis for medical applications involving the eyes.

The Sanofi-Google collaboration is expected to result in better integration of health and wellness indicators related to diabetes including concentrations of glucose in hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, abbreviated HbA1c or A1c. Sanofi and Google are joining a field of new devices to improve care and management of diabetes, with implanted systems and mobile apps from other companies already being tested in clinical trials.

Innovations in life sciences is one of the target areas of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. In the corporate announcement of Alphabet, Google founder Larry Page specifically mentioned the smart contact lens that senses glucose as an example of the direction Alphabet wants to go.

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