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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 2 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 sugar levels 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 reading, you can painlessly swipe a reader over the sensor. Flash also lets you see the direction your blood sugar is heading and the next generation of this tech - Flash 2 - will include alarms which alert you when you're going too low or too high.

In 2019, Flash became available on prescription across the UK to those who meet the criteriaBut it’s estimated only 20% 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 value of Flash or its cost-effectiveness. And as Flash 2 hasn't launched yet, there isn't any research looking into its impact. 

Research aims

Dr Leelarathna will find out if Flash 2 improves blood sugar levels, compared to finger prick testing, in people with Type 1 diabetes who have an above target HbA1cDr Leelarathna thinks this group is likely to see the biggest gains in blood sugar control from using the device.

Around 150 participants will be asked to monitor their blood sugar levels with either Flash 2 or finger pricks for 12 weeks. Dr Leelarathna will look for any differences in blood sugar control between the two groups.

The research team will also explore the impact of Flash 2 on people’s satisfaction with their treatment and quality of life. Finally, they’ll study the cost-effectiveness of Flash 2, 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 the next generation of this tech - Flash 2 - is both beneficial and cost-effective. We need this vital evidence to support widening the NHS eligibility criteria and help making living with Type 1 diabetes easier for more people.  

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