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Testing blood glucose in a flash

Project summary

Flash Glucose Monitoring gives people with diabetes a simple and painless way to monitor their blood glucose levels. But not everyone who would benefit has access to this life-changing technology. Dr Lalantha Leelarathna will compare the impact and costs of Flash to finger pricks tests in people with Type 1 diabetes. This will provide important evidence that could help make Flash more widely available on the NHS, to transform the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes.

Background to research

Monitoring blood glucose is a vital part of day-to-day life for people with diabetes. This usually means finger prick tests, which can be painful and inconvenient, and many people struggle to do the recommended 4-10 tests a day.

But new Flash Glucose Monitoring could change this. Flash involves a small sensor that sits just underneath your skin and continuously measures glucose in the fluid that surrounds your body’s cells. To get a glucose reading, you can painlessly swipe a reader over the sensor. Flash also lets you see the direction your blood glucose is heading and access the last eight hours of your readings.

In 2018, the NHS announced this revolutionary technology will be available across the UK. But it’s estimated only 20 to 25% of people with Type 1 diabetes will be eligible. Meaning many who could benefit will be denied access. In part, this is because we don’t yet have strong research evidence showing the benefits of Flash or its cost-effectiveness.

Research aims

Dr Leelarathna will find out if Flash improves blood glucose control, compared to finger prick testing, in people with Type 1 diabetes who have high blood glucose levels. This group is likely to see the biggest gains in blood glucose control from using the device.

Around 150 participants will be asked to monitor their blood glucose levels with either Flash or finger pricks for 12 weeks. Dr Leelarathna will look for any differences in blood glucose control between the two groups.

The research team will also explore the impact of Flash on people’s satisfaction with their treatment and quality of life. Finally, they’ll study the cost-effectiveness of Flash, to give the NHS important information to make decisions about its wider use.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

At the moment only those who meet strict NHS criteria, or who can afford to self-fund Flash, have access to this life-changing technology. This research will help determine if Flash is both beneficial and cost-effective – vital evidence needed to support widening the NHS eligibility criteria, making living with Type 1 diabetes easier for more people.  

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