[BLT Insight]Continuous Glucose Monitoring tech in Korea

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Diabetes patients in Korea account for more than 10% of the population. According to the Korean Diabetes Association, the number of diabetes patients in Korea has already exceeded 6 million in 2020, and the number of pre-diabetics is also showing a rapid increase to 15.83 million. Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires constant management by checking blood sugar levels, but there was the problem of having to draw blood to measure blood sugar levels. Patients struggle with invasive measurements that involve daily blood sampling. Recently, ‘Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)’, which can observe changes in blood sugar levels 24 hours a day without blood collection, has been proposed as a solution to the difficulties in managing diabetes.

[Image] Diabetes prevalence and diagnosis criteria by gender


[Image] Korean market size forecast for Continuous Glucose Monitoring (unit trillion won)

A continuous blood glucose meter measures blood sugar levels based on glucose concentration through a sensor inserted under the skin. Glucose concentration has the characteristic of being able to be measured 288 times a day, every 5 minutes, in interstitial fluid, 24 hours a day. In particular, it is possible to check how well the blood sugar level of diabetic and pre-diabetic patients is maintained within the target range (70 to 180 mg/dL). Additionally, the volatility of blood sugar can be checked through the coefficient of variation, and it has the feature of preventing the risk of hypoglycemia by maintaining the coefficient of variation at a low value (within 36%). In this way, there is an advantage in being able to monitor and respond to diabetes patients' blood sugar problems 24 hours a day.

[Image] Principles of continuous blood glucose meters (image from springer.com)

Korean companies are actively participating in the continuous blood sugar measurement device market. iSense Co., Ltd. (CEO Cha Geun-sik) succeeded in obtaining product approval for a continuous blood sugar measurement device for the first time among domestic companies. 'CareSense', a continuous blood sugar measurement device from i-Sense Co., Ltd., transmits blood sugar values measured from the sensor to a smartphone app every 5 minutes without a separate dedicated receiver and also shows blood sugar statistics for the past 24 hours, so you can systematically monitor blood sugar levels. There are features that can be managed. iSense Co., Ltd. plans to increase its domestic market share by quickly launching continuous blood glucose monitors (CGMs) into the market by leveraging its experience in dominating the domestic blood glucose monitor (BGM) market, which was dominated by foreign companies, based on 'CareSense'. am.

[Image] Continuous Glucose Monitoring device  from iSense Co., Ltd.

[Image] Continuous Glucose Monitoring software from iSense Co., Ltd.

In addition, Dongwoon Anatech, a domestic company, developed the world's first blood sugar measurement technology using saliva. Dongwoon Anatech Co., Ltd.'s saliva-based blood sugar measurement technology uses 'enzyme-containing strips' that can quantify the glucose present in saliva that is 50 times more diluted than blood, and a micro-current generated from the chemical reaction between saliva and the strip. It is a structure that reads and measures. Based on this technology, we independently developed D-SaLife, which is equipped with a ‘reader that can read microcurrents’. ‘D-SaLife’ conducted a clinical trial on 114 patients at Eulji University Hospital in 2020 and showed an accuracy of 92.5%. Based on these experiments, we plan to enter the market.

[Image] Dongwoon Anatech Co., Ltd.'s blood sugar measuring device

In addition, Korean company Apollon (CEO Hong A-ram) was also selected for TIPS (KRW 700 million in support) in recognition of its continuous blood sugar measurement technology. Apollon's continuous blood sugar measurement technology measures glucose in the body using an ultra-small Harman Raman spectroscopy device without a needle. Currently, clinical trials are underway with MIT's Laser Biomedical Research Center. In particular, by measuring Raman signals in the body, various diseases, including blood sugar, can be diagnosed, so the product's scalability appears to be high. Apollon announced that based on this TIP grant, it will successfully commercialize the product and enter the market through joint research with MIT.

[Image] Apollon’s Raman signal-based continuous blood sugar measurement device

The government also plans to actively support the introduction of continuous blood sugar measuring devices. In the second half of this year, health insurance will apply to continuous blood sugar monitoring devices. The introduction of health insurance is expected to significantly lower the cost burden of blood sugar management for type 2 diabetes patients. According to health insurance officials, there are about 413,000 type 2 diabetes patients and about 16,000 gestational diabetes patients, so a total of 430,000 people will benefit. If this happens, the cost of continuous blood sugar measuring devices is expected to drop from 840,000 won to 252,000 won, and the cost of measuring sensors will go down from 3.65 million won to 1.095 million won.

BLT Research Center, a patent firm, said, “With the government’s active support, the continuous blood sugar measurement device market is expected to achieve dramatic growth. “It seems important for companies to establish response strategies to these technological changes.” To this end, he said, “Measurement technology and analysis technology for continuous blood sugar measurement are important technologies, and it is necessary to secure rights to related technologies.”

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