World’s First ‘No Blood’ Glucose Monitor for Diabetics; Developed by Israeli Start-Up Cnoga Medical

Israel’s Cnoga Medical Ltd.has developed a blood glucose monitor for diabetics that uses optical censors to measure change in skin color instead of a pin prick to take a physical sample of blood.

This “non-invasive” device is now available in Europe, and will likely require a clinical trial in the U.S. before being sold officially to diabetics, although the device’s technology has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other applications, CEO Dr. Yosef Segman told Israel’s Globes business daily.

The insight for the invention comes from a curious parallel with how color is created in television screens, which Dr. Segmen, a mathematician, was also familiar with, from his first start-up, OPlus Technologies, sold to Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC) in 2005, which made processors for televisions.

The same way that the first color television sets mixed red, green and blue to create all other colors, the human body, in varying proportions, mixes the same three colors, red, followed by either green or blue. “When hemoglobin combines with oxygen, it creates red. There is only one animal in nature, the horseshoe crab, which has blue blood,” he told Globes.

Rather than pricking a finger for blood, a patient can place his finger on the optical sensor, and the device can monitor heartbeat, skin resistance and the quality of skin collagen, as well as blood sugar levels. Future applications of the technology involve developing the monitor for the cosmetics market, to diagnose skin health to decide on the appropriate treatment, and for homeland security market, to identify nervous people.

“I brought this product to a meeting with Texas Instruments, and it suddenly produced results that were similar to all the sophisticated monitors,” Dr. Segman said.

Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXM), which makes the processors that underpin the monitor, Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD-F), and private investors, including Sasson Yona, who co-founded OPlus with Dr. Segman, have contributed the $8 million in development costs for the device.

Cnoga’s approach for using skin color for diagnostic purposes has already been copied by others who Dr. Segman believes are infringing on the company’s patent, although it’s competitors are not yet measuring blood sugar levels with the technology.