By Marie Schiller, Vice President, Connected Care and Insulins Product Development, Eli Lilly and Company and Ruth Gimeno, Vice President, Diabetes and Metabolic Research, Diabetes and Complications Research, Eli Lilly and Company
In 1928, scientists at Eli Lilly and Company in collaboration with academic investigators developed a liver extract-product that could be used to treat pernicious anemia, a life-threatening blood disorder. This innovative treatment led to a standard of therapy for pernicious anemia and its importance was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1934. Lilly’s scientists worked with all available technology and resources and with external collaborators to solve an unmet need for people living with this condition.
This treatment for pernicious anemia is just one example of how institutions and companies, including Lilly, strive to better the care and management of chronic conditions through creative solutions. Throughout the years, the pharmaceutical and medical device industries have used cutting-edge technologies to develop medications, devices and other products that can improve life for people with chronic conditions. For example, the work of innovators in diabetes research and development has spanned centuries, from the discovery of insulins and other molecules to the latest diabetes management devices, such as continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps.
Diabetes innovation began in the early 1900s with the discovery of insulin by two Canadian researchers, and later the introduction of Iletin, the world’s first commercially available insulin. This discovery changed the definition of diabetes from a fatal disease to a condition that can be effectively managed. As insulin therapy became the standard of care for people with diabetes, innovators began to consider how technology could improve diabetes management.
In the early 1980s, insulin pens and pumps, which made insulin therapy a little more manageable, started to become available to people with diabetes; however, diabetes management continues to be a complex daily commitment. This is why companies like Lilly are using the latest technologies to uncover creative solutions to simplify diabetes treatment and management. These advancements in medications and devices are examples of how the intersection of science and technology are altering the way we treat diabetes.
In many instances, the intersection of science and technology means partnering with expert research and technology companies to move the needle on innovation and truly impact the lives of people with diabetes. This is just one of the driving forces behind what we like to call the Connected Diabetes Ecosystem, which is currently in development and is designed with components that will aim to analyze blood sugar trends in response to insulin dose changes and capture people’s behaviors to hopefully provide actionable insights that can help manage diabetes. When we began developing the Connected Diabetes Ecosystem, we knew collaborations with expert diabetes technology companies like Dexcom, DEKA Research & Development Corp., Rimidi and others, would help us work toward our goal of simplifying diabetes management.
The Connected Diabetes Ecosystem, one of the most advanced connected technology projects currently being developed by Lilly, is innovative in its use of technology, but also in its ability to potentially help people with diabetes overcome the challenges of living with this complicated condition. At Lilly, we believe technology can go beyond diabetes, and our standard of innovation pushes scientists and engineers to look beyond what has been done before and to strive to break down these barriers of disease management. As we push the boundaries of medicine and technology, we understand that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for disease management. This notion has never been more important to our researchers as we continue to develop products to help people with diabetes and other chronic diseases better manage their conditions.