The precision with which insulin can be used to manage diabetes is astounding and has a very real impact on those living with the condition. This is thanks mostly to continuous glucose monitors such as the Dexcom G7, where wireless sensors are able to interface directly with a smartphone app or insulin pump to give an accurate reading of current blood sugar levels throughout the day. This gives a much better understanding of how to effectively and comfortably administer insulin based on the changing demands of the day and gives the patient more flexibility.
According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of diabetes globally is approaching 9%. Type 2 diabetes affects the majority (>90%) of these patients and is rapidly increasing with obesity rates and ageing populations. Type 1 diabetes affects fewer (>10%) and usually presents during childhood. This large population makes an attractive market to develop devices for, but there are other populations that will certainly be able to make use of these developments. The responsive feedback loop of glucose monitors in such an unintrusive form is not uniquely positioned to benefit diabetes patients.
Chemotherapy is a standout example of a similar situation where imprecise dosing can lead to unnecessary patient discomfort. Continuous chemotherapy infusion pumps have been developed and operate much the same way insulin pumps have previously. They offer a huge improvement in patient comfort over traditional dosing and could progress to a responsive system with the development of a reliable continuous sensor unit.
It is not unreasonable to expect that many common pharmacology treatments currently administered could in the future be formulated to be dispensed as an infusion. Already most pills are designed to passively ensure a continuous release and doctors work with patients to develop a titration schedule when transitioning on or off medications. As diabetes care gets more and more unintrusive, expect to see these techniques applied to a wider and wider patient population.