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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 31, 2007

Firm wins $967,000 federal grant to develop bloodless glucose monitor

ASL Analytical, a medical technology firm located in the University of Iowa's Technology Innovation Center, has received a $967,297 federal grant to develop a monitor that would alert people with type 1 diabetes when their overnight blood glucose (sugar) levels drop to dangerously low levels.

The two-year, Phase 1 grant is from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, and is administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration through its Small Business Technology Transfer program.

Mark Arnold, ASL Analytical vice president and co-founder, said his company is developing the non-invasive monitor for people with type 1 diabetes to help avoid hypoglycemia, an abnormally low level of blood sugar.

"People with diabetes have variable blood sugar levels at night," says Arnold, a professor of chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). "Estimates indicate a small percentage of people with type 1 diabetes die of comas, so people with type 1 diabetes, including adults and children, are concerned about this problem. The ideal device to monitor this condition is a sensor that can be clipped onto the end of a fingertip. This device must wake people up so that some action can be taken before reaching dangerous glucose levels."

ASL's research device directs infrared light through a person's skin to determine the chemical composition of the blood. Near infrared spectroscopy is used to identify and quantify selected blood components by analyzing the spectrum produced when skin substances absorb certain wavelengths of light.

ASL is a university spinout company based on core technology developed at the UI. ASL has received gap grant funding from the Grow Iowa Values Fund and the UI Research Foundation to help develop the first product line.

"By the end of the grant period, we hope to have a prototype device ready for the next phase of development and testing, which must be done before the product is ready for FDA approval," said Arnold, who holds the Edwin B. Green Chair in Laser Chemistry and directs the UI Optical Science and Technology Center.

Arnold and ASL Analytical will continue to conduct collaborative research in this area with colleagues in the CLAS Department of Physics and Astronomy, the UI College of Engineering and the UI Optical Science and Technology Center. Jonathon Olesberg is an interdisciplinary scientist at the UI who interacts with all these groups and provides much of the technology innovation required to advance this nocturnal alarm.

ASL was founded in February 2005 and has been located in the UI Technology Innovation Center since June 2006. ASL is one of 19 companies in the UI's business incubator, the Technology Innovation Center. Nearly 90 new business ventures using advanced technology have been admitted to the center since it was established in 1984.

Gary Small and Ken Legg are also principals in the company. Small, ASL vice president and professor of chemistry at the UI, has worked with Arnold for more than a dozen years to understand the analytical and spectroscopic requirements for the noninvasive measurement of glucose. Legg is president of ASL Analytical and provides considerable expertise in the glucose sensing market. As a co-founder of Inverness Medical Technologies, Legg was instrumental in the development of a successful line of glucose test-strip meters that was eventually purchased by Johnson & Johnson and is marketed today under the One Touch FastTake brand name.

The University of Iowa Research Foundation and Technology Innovation Center are part of the IOWA Centers for Enterprise, which integrates existing economic development activities at the UI, offers a comprehensive program that promotes economic development and technology transfer, provides assistance to Iowa startups and existing Iowa businesses and communities, and helps the state of Iowa develop a creative, entrepreneurial workforce. IOWA Centers for Enterprise optimizes the flow of university intellectual property into opportunities for licensing, commercialization and business development. For more information, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Mark Arnold, ASL Analytical/UI Department of Chemistry,, 319-335-1368; Thomas Sharpe, IOWA Centers for Enterprise, 319-335-3899; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,

NOTE: Arnold will speak about his venture as part of a technology transfer presentation today (Wednesday, Oct. 31) at the Board of Regents meeting in Iowa City.