Not to be confused with that other big name company leaning on the Latin prefix Med––um, Medtronic––is another diabetes management company called Medtrum. Last year, Medtrum, a relatively unknown company, quietly began marketing a semi-closed-loop artificial pancreas. However, if you poke around on the internet, you will find a shortage of hard facts. Do an image search and you’ll come up lacking in helpful images, like, say, a Medtrum system worn by an actual human. Here’s what we have pulled together about this interesting, but uncertain, new technology.
What it is: An integrated three-part “pancreas” made up of an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and a Predictive Low Glucose Suspend (PLGS) mechanism.
What it promises: The P6 Easy Touch Disposable Pump is tiny (smaller even than the Omnipod according to DiabetesMine), and comes in an array of sherbet accented colors. The pump has ZERO tubing and looks thin enough to hide under most clothing. Everything for insulin delivery is contained within the unit, including power and pumping. The reservoir holds 200 units of insulin, which could last you two to three weeks depending on your carb ratio.
The monthly disposable CGM system is a small transmitter attached to the body with a tiny, flexible, hair-like sensor. It lasts for seven days, takes 720 readings a day, every two minutes, and transmits your data via Bluetooth to your mobile phone. It stores data for 15-days and is waterproof. Medtrum reports that its CGM has a 9% MARD––mean absolute relative difference between CGM readings and blood glucose readings––which is comparable with the Dexcom system and beats the FreeStyle Libre, which has a reported 11.4% MARD.
Those are amazing numbers, but the CGM isn’t actually available and when Adam Brown of diaTribe spoke with them at 2016’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes, he walked away with what he called “low confidence.” Brown pressed Medtrum on its CGM data––comparator, in-clinic days, paired points, type of patient––and came up empty handed.
When it does launch, the pump and CGM will be connected via an app on your mobile phone, which sounds dreamy since no one needs another gadget to keep track of, let alone those of us with diabetes.
The PLGS piece of the software will automatically suspend insulin delivery when the CGM predicts a low limit. Basal insulin will automatically resume when you’re back in target.
The bulkiest item to carry around with you is the A6 TouchCare PDM, which is the controller and the brains of the system. Medtrum calls it a “smart remote control.” It manages the real-time system via Bluetooth and can store up to 90-days of data. You can set customizable reminders and alerts and its automatic reconnection means you won’t lose data. However, because the CGM doesn’t exist yet in its final state, if you were to get the pump, you would need to manually enter your values into the controller.
Other nice-to-have promises: You can share your information with loved ones and healthcare professionals whenever you want.
While potentially exciting for those of us who want an all-in-one system, Tim Street of DiabetTech reports that only the pump is available for trials, not for purchase, and Medtrum has yet to release any data from its small clinical trials. The company (who did not return emails) is also rumored to have received some heat from regulators in England about its use of social media to find patients willing to try its system.
Is it on the market? The disposable pump is available in Europe, but the U.S. looks to be very far out.
So, why are we reporting on something that is so far from entering the market, and possibly so questionable? First, because it’s exciting to see companies move towards taking care of our needs more holistically, and also the more people working towards entire solutions, the closer we’ll be to a cure. Kelly Close, founder of diaTribe Foundation, is encouraged to see businesses “realizing that we need way more than just good therapy and devices.” But, I’ll close with what the founder wrote in her email: We still have a long way to go.
Photos courtesy of Tim Street