When it comes to developing new products, the devil is often in the detail. Researchers from Mannheim and Penzberg collaborated to successfully solve a "problem" with the latest generation of blood glucose meters.
Vitamin D deficiency contributes to the development of various diseases. Roche has developed an innovative test for the early detection of vitamin D deficiency, which can therefore prevent the occurrence of secondary diseases.
Metabolic disturbances can lead to a wide range of diseases, such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. In order develop pharmaceuticals to combat these widespread diseases, researchers at Roche examine the interactions that occur between different metabolic pathways, and specifically target the critical 'switch points' of a disease. Sensitive diagnostic tests enable precise analyses of metabolic processes, and provide a basis for effective treatment.
Vitamin D Test
With the new test for vitamin D, Roche has given the doctors the ability to determine the exact level of this essential vitamin in their patients. And increasing numbers of doctors are availing of this option. This is hardly surprising, given that a vitamin D deficiency can predispose a patient to developing a range of illnesses, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, muscle weakness, and Alzheimer's disease.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when it is exposed to UV-B light. In the body, vitamin D is then converted into the hormone calcitriol. Calcitriol regulates the expression of several hundred genes, and, as a result, influences many different metabolic pathways.
The design of the vitamin D test represented a huge challenge for the test development team in Penzberg. For one thing, vitamin D is not naturally water-soluble, making it difficult to analyze. For another, it is not easy to separate the vitamin from the binding protein to which it is bound.
The researchers used an innovative method to overcome these difficulties. The result is a test that enables the early detection of vitamin D deficiency and can therefore prevent the development of secondary diseases.
Greater stability in blood glucose determination
When it comes to developing new products, the devil is often in the detail. This certainly proved to be the case during work on the latest generation of blood glucose meters, which use one-step technology. These are monitors with a design similar to a cell phone, which use a needle to take blood from the patient's finger and measure the blood glucose level completely automatically.
To ensure maximum stability of the test system, the test developers in Mannheim wanted to use the chemical properties of NAD. In the past, however, the essential reagent cNAD could only be manufactured using a 14-step synthesis process using an explosive raw material. Researchers in Penzberg were able to come to the assistance of their colleagues in Mannheim. They developed an enzymatic production method that does not rely on the explosive raw material.
In 2012, the collaborative project was awarded the distinction of the Roche Diagnostics Innovation Prize.
New technologies for blood glucose monitoring
In the area of Diabetes Care, Roche develops innovative, integrated systems, such as blood glucose meters, lancing devices and diabetes management solutions, which support patients and healthcare professionals in treatment optimization. Roche Diabetes Care also develops insulin pumps and systems for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). Accu-Chek Insight (a next-generation insulin pump with integrated blood glucose monitoring) and an innovative micropump are currently in the pipeline. We're also working on a system for continuous glucose monitoring, which uses a small sensor under the patient's skin to continuously measure blood glucose levels in real time. The system is currently in the early stages of development, and the first clinical trials have produced some very promising data.