June 28, 2018

Diabetic Koala Receives New Human Glucose Monitoring System

A Queensland koala at the San Diego Zoo is among the first recipients of Dexcom 6, an interoperable continuous glucose monitoring system designed for humans with diabetes.
By Amanda Carrozza
Koala Diabetes Monitoring
Photo credit: San Diego Zoo
In March, the FDA permitted marketing of Dexcom G6, the first fully interoperable continuous glucose monitoring system for humans. Among the recipients of the product—which started shipping earlier this month—was one particularly memorable marsupial.

Quincy, a 3-year old, male Queensland koala currently residing at the San Diego Zoo, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after caretakers noticed he was drinking a lot of water and was not maintaining his body weight.

“Very few koalas have been diagnosed with and treated for diabetes,” said Cora Singleton, DVM, senior veterinarian, San Diego Zoo Veterinary Services. “Quincy currently requires insulin injections, which are based on his blood sugar level.”

Unfortunately, testing Quincy’s blood sugar levels required pricking his ear multiple times a day, which was tedious and bothered Quincy. On June 1, however, a team of veterinary experts, endocrinologists from Scripps Health, and biotechnology professionals from Dexcom came together to outfit Quincy with his own Dexcom G6.

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The sensor and transmitter placed on Quincy’s abdomen send his blood glucose levels to a smart device that is monitored by his caretakers. With this new technology in place, the zoo’s veterinarians no longer have to prick Quincy’s skin multiple times per day to test his blood glucose levels. The monitor also has built-in alerts and alarms that will notify the zoo’s staff before Quincy’s blood glucose reaches dangerous levels.

“We are hopeful that this technology will work as well in koalas as it does in people,” Dr. Singleton said, “thus allowing us to optimize his insulin therapy while promoting his welfare during his illness.”

 

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