Novartis and Google to develop 'smart' contact lens

ZURICH Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:13pm IST

A Novartis logo is pictured on its headquarters building in Mumbai February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

A Novartis logo is pictured on its headquarters building in Mumbai February 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis has struck an agreement with Google to develop "smart" contact lenses that would help diabetics to track their blood glucose levels or restore the eye's ability to focus.

The device for diabetics would measure glucose in tear fluid and send the data wirelessly to a mobile device, Novartis said. The technology is potentially life-changing for many diabetics, who prick their fingers as many as 10 times daily to check their body's production of the sugar.

Success would allow Novartis to compete in a global blood-sugar tracking market that is expected to be worth more than $12 billion by 2017, according to research firm GlobalData. Diabetes afflicts an estimated 382 million people worldwide.

Many people with Type 1 diabetes and some with Type 2 diabetes monitor their blood glucose level to help to manage their condition and reduce the risk of health complications such as amputation and blindness.

Simon O’Neill, director of health intelligence at the charity Diabetes UK, said the field would "welcome any investment in new technology that might one day have the potential to make this easier for people or to offer them more choice". He added, however, that without knowing more about this technology "we have no idea how likely it is to develop into something that is routinely available or how long this might take to happen".

The second element of the Google agreement is centred on presbyopia, in which ageing eyes have trouble focusing on close objects. Novartis hopes the lens technology will help to restore the eye's ability to focus, almost like the autofocus on a camera.

EMBEDDED TECHNOLOGY

Non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturised electronics would be embedded into the contact lenses.

Under the deal, Novartis's Alcon eyecare unit will further develop and commercialise the lens technologies designed by Google[x], the American company's development team.

Financial details were not disclosed.

The alliance comes as drugmakers explore ways for technology to reshape healthcare, helping patients to monitor their own health and lowering the costs of managing chronic diseases.

In turn, technology companies such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and Google are trying to find health-related applications for wearable devices.

Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez said he hoped that a product could be on the market in about five years.

"This really brings high-technology and combines it with biology - and that's a very exciting combination for us," Jimenez told Reuters.

"I think you're going to see more and more areas of unmet medical need where companies like Novartis are going to take a non-traditional approach to addressing those needs."

Although the licensing deal is only for the eye, Jimenez said the drugmaker was also thinking about how technology could be applied in other areas, such as remote patient monitoring in heart failure.

(Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London and by Katharina Bart and Paul Arnold in Zurich. Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and David Goodman)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Wipro Results

People walk in the Wipro campus in Bangalore June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files

Wipro sees rosier end to year as U.S. clients spend

India's third-biggest software services firm Wipro Ltd , under pressure to improve lacklustre sales growth, said it saw a rosier end to the year as more confident U.S. clients increase spending.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

New Email Service

New Email Service

Google launches new email service dubbed "Inbox".  Full Article 

Cyber Attack

Cyber Attack

China-backed hackers may have infiltrated Apple's iCloud - blog.  Full Article 

User Data Security

User Data Security

Apple CEO discusses security with top Chinese official amid hacking claims - Xinhua.  Full Article 

Patent Wars

Patent Wars

Big Tech winning battle with 'patent trolls'.  Full Article 

Record Season

Record Season

FedEx expects record peak volume of 22.6 million packages on Dec. 15.  Full Article 

Yahoo Earnings

Yahoo Earnings

Yahoo ekes out Q3 revenue gain despite display ad weakness.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage