Research & Innovation Services

Diabetic sufferers benefit from global licensing of University technology

NEMAURA_LogoNemaura Pharma Ltd., a specialty pharmaceutical drug delivery company that specialises in transdermal drug delivery and diagnostics, has licensed from the University of Bath technology developed by Dr. BegoƱa Delgado-Charro and Professor Richard Guy of the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology.

The minimally invasive technology involves the extraction of glucose across the skin by ‘reverse iontophoresis’. In this approach, the application of small electrical current permits glucose to be withdrawn quantitatively to the skin surface in direct proportion to the level of blood sugar in a diabetic subject.

The idea was first translated into a product called the GlucoWatch Biographer®, which was developed by a California-based company (Cygnus, Inc.), approved by the US FDA and brought to market in 2001. However, this device required at least daily calibration with a classic ‘finger-stick’ measurement of blood glucose, rendering the approach less attractive for many diabetics.

The new intellectual property developed by Delgado-Charro and Guy proposes to take advantage of the fact that reverse iontophoresis brings to the skin surface not only glucose, but also many other substances including several simple ions, such as sodium (Na+). Because the level of sodium chloride in the human body is controlled within fairy tight limits, which are well-known, the reverse iontophoretic extraction of Na+ is rather constant.

This means that the extraction of Na+ can be used as an “internal standard” for calibrating the extraction of glucose, meaning that a separate, direct determination of the sugar in the blood is unnecessary. The novelty of this concept and the experimental proof, which validated the method, has allowed patent protection to be obtained in the US, Canada and, most recently, Europe.

The licensing of the technology by Nemaura reflects the company’s belief that a truly non-invasive approach to glucose monitoring remains a highly desirable objective, to relieve diabetics of an uncomfortable procedure (i.e., the conventional finger-stick) – physically and socially - that is performed far less frequently than that necessary to ensure good blood glucose control.

With the experience gained from the GlucoWatch, which is no longer available commercially, Nemaura believes that a transdermal monitor that employs the ‘internal standard’ calibration can allow diabetics (both Types 1 and 2) to discreetly and noninvasively track blood glucose levels. The value of preventing large excursions in blood sugar concentration and periods of either hyper- or hypo-glycaemia is established: the chronic incidence of the former being the cause of many long-term complications of diabetes (e.g., retinopathy, kidney failure, loss of peripheral circulation); the latter posing a risk of loss of consciousness and coma, especially in juvenile (Type 1) diabetics.

Dr Faz Chowdhury, CEO of Nemaura commented: “Nemaura’s non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring watch has already demonstrated very encouraging results and we envisage that the additional technology from the University of Bath will further enhance the patient benefits of the device, for what can be a debilitating condition”.

Professor Guy has commented, “In some respects, the GlucoWatch was over-engineered and a simpler and less invasive approach that alerts a diabetic when the blood sugar falls outside pre-set, desirable limits would represent a valuable advance of considerable potential benefit from a clinical point of view.”

Dr Miles Davis, Head of Enterprise and Knowledge Exploitation (EKE) at the University says: “To license new technology derived from the University research base, on such a global scale, demonstrates how far reaching our contributions for making a difference to society can be. This is great news for all concerned, most importantly those who suffer from diabetes and can benefit from a better quality of life as a result”.

For further information on licensing opportunities with the University please contact:
Dr Miles Davis, Head of Enterprise and Knowledge Exploitation (EKE)
Email: M.Davis@bath.ac.uk.