Google's Life Sciences division to build a miniature glucose tracker

A pin-prick from a finger stick is a daily ritual for about 10 percent of the American population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes. In most cases, the condition requires long-term medication and lifestyle changes that are based on the patient's daily glucose levels. Dexcom, a California-based company known for its diabetes-management devices, has partnered with Google's Life Sciences division (now a subsidiary of the much-talked about Alphabet) to develop a miniature product line of its existing continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. The new disposable version of the slap-on sensor could potentially replace the bulk of blood-monitoring devices.

Dexcom's current CGM system, which works for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, is a sensor that picks up glucose levels under the patient's skin. It's equipped with a transmitter that sends readings every five minutes to a monitor. With about 288 readings through the day, patient-users can see their glucose patterns to make better decisions about their daily routines. The company's collaboration with Life Sciences is expected to help minimize the size and cost of their sensor system.

Andrew Conrad, who continues to lead Life Sciences under Alphabet, stated that the company's health-centered operation is "committed to developing new technologies that will help move health care from reactive to proactive." With the help of his company's miniaturization expertise with electronics, the next-generation device could be an affordable bandage-sized sensor that will send real-time glucose updates to a cloud. While the tiny sensor won't be ready to monitor levels for a couple of years, for now Dexcom's paid Life Sciences $35 million in stock with an additional $65 million coming in later as the product line matures.

[Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]