Dog’s Nose Inspires Diabetes Detector

A new wearable device by AerBetic Inc. lets diabetics keep up with their blood-sugar levels.

Arnar Thors, CEO of Birmingham-based AerBetic Inc., has heard countless tragic stories of diabetes patients going blind, suffering organ failure and losing limbs to the insidious disease. That’s one reason he’s driven to succeed in bringing wearable technology for diabetes monitoring to market.

In this technological breakthrough, nanosensors measure gases indicating high or low blood sugar for diabetics. Using the wearable device with a smart phone app, patients can observe changes and adjust accordingly.

“Over time, the device will learn their chemistry and track their highs and lows,” Thors says.

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It’s early days yet for such a device to eliminate the need for needle-sticks, but that’s the direction AerBetic is headed. Next steps will be taking the device to the FDA.

The idea was sparked more than a decade ago when Thors brought home his Labrador retriever from a kennel that trained diabetic alert animals. He learned then that a dog’s keen nose can detect changes in blood sugar to the parts per trillion.

“I had known the concept of animals doing that for 12 years,” Thors says. “Fast forward to three years ago, and through a partnership with a company in San Diego that makes a gas sensor that can sense to the part per billion level, we were asked to develop equipment for mass manufacturing.”

The device’s sensors are designed and manufactured by California-based AerNos. Thors, co-founder of Fitz-Thors Engineering Inc., which specializes in design-build engineering projects, automation and high-precision manufacturing services, worked out an exclusive agreement for the diabetic product.

“They’re a pretty young company, as well,” Thors says. “We were working parallel with them to be able to move our product forward with their product. They are cutting edge on the sensor, and we are cutting edge on the solution. Both products are revolutionary.”

The device is in the final stages of development, with testing slated to begin early in the first quarter of this year. The first production units are expected to ship late this year or early next year.

Launched in July 2018, AerBetic was awarded a research grant from Southern Research and, in November 2018, won a $50,000 award for the concept track prize in the Alabama Launchpad competition.

“The funds we received from winning that were instrumental in getting us to where we are now and in paying for prototype,” says Thors, who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. “It helped us springboard this idea to the world.”

With this new product’s promise, Thors has doubled down on his commitment to Alabama. He’s planning a manufacturing operation in downtown Birmingham at Hardware Park on 5th Ave. N., a space designed to develop small start-up manufacturing operations that need warehousing.

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