The number of people affected by diabetes has increased alarmingly since the 1980s—primarily due to a general rise in obesity at large. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 420 million people are battling diabetes worldwide.
So what exactly is diabetes? Put simply, diabetes is a condition that causes the sugar levels in the bloodstream to increase to dangerous levels, damaging internal organs in the process.
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type I – the glandular organ known as the pancreas does not produce insulin—a hormone that moves the sugar we get from food to the cells in the body for energy.
- Type II – the pancreas produces insulin—but not enough, or the cells in the body no longer react to insulin
Because of its prevalence worldwide, diabetes has become a focal point of many research programs, laboratories, and institutions.
Scientists are increasingly turning to technology and computing innovation to advance the battle against diabetes; in turn, a myriad of startups are creating solutions for battling this pandemic. Here are 9 healthcare and medical startups focused on building products and solutions to combat or treat diabetes.
Its slogan “We make diabetes suck” less aptly describes the company’s solution. MySugr specializes in digital products and solutions for people with diabetes. They have apps for Android and iPhone, most popular of which being mySugr Logbook. It is very simple to use; you just feed it information including food intake, activities, blood sugar values and the app processes it and provides you with glucose graphs and analysis. Additionally, they have a mySugr Academy (lots of info on diabetes) and mySugr Quiz.
Currently in development phase, Sensulin is creating a promising solution that mimics a healthy pancreas using glucose-responsive insulin. The beauty of this product is the fact that it is a once-per-24-hour shot, eliminating the need to constantly monitor sugar levels and administer multiple injections per day.
Common Sensing is a medical device startup known for its GoCap solution: a small cap that sits on top of a pre-filled insulin pen that records data like how much insulin is administered daily and how many times. This data is first transmitted via Bluetooth to a phone or a connected glucometer, then to the appropriate healthcare professionals for analysis and monitoring.
Valeritas’ V-Go is a small patch that serves as an insulin delivering system for type II diabetes patients. It contains a day’s worth of fast-acting insulin and is preset to deliver doses throughout the day. The V-Go features a handy little button that you can press to have insulin delivered into your body at a higher quantity for administering before meals.
has developed a matchstick size osmotic pump known as ITCA 650, placed under the skin that delivers exenatide (medication used in treatment of type II diabetes) continuously. The process is pretty simple: under the titanium alloy stick is under the skin, water from the extracellular fluid enters it from one side and utilizing the salt osmotic engine it pushes the drug from the other side of the stick. ITCA 650 is currently in phase 3 of the trial process, the last phase to be completed before product launch.
This startup has developed a wearable sensor platform for preventing peripheral neuropathy— also as “numb feet”–which roughly half of diabetics develop, often leading to amputations. The solution is a shoe insert embedded with sensors that collect pressure data from your feet and transmits the information to a smart watch, which in turn alerts you when the pressure levels become dangerously high so you can modify your habits.
inControl is the TypeZero’s artificial pancreas solution: people affected by diabetes wear a Bluetooth-powered glucose monitor and insulin pump that automatically dispenses insulin as required. The artificial pancreas saves time and allows diabetics to get a good night’s sleep without worries.
Livongo takes blood sugar value collection and transmission to the next level by eliminating expensive test strips and connecting glucose testing to research and real-life care. It utilizes a touch-screen meter to collect and transmit data, providing you with feedback and suggestions to manage diabetes. You have access to a life coach, and–best of all–an emergency action plan: if the system records a low, it will attempt to contact you, and if unsuccessful, will call your designated emergency contacts. If they also do not answer, 911 will be called on your behalf.
Rimidi’s Diabetes+Me is a software application designed to bridge the gap between diabetics and health care providers. The process is very simple: patients pair an app on their phone with their glucometer to transfer the data; in turn, doctors used that data to model treatments based on each individual including medication modifications and diet or exercise suggestions.
These 9 innovative startups are tackling the pandemic of diabetes with technology—from online support to apps to wearable technology. The effects of diabetes are varied, but one thing is for certain: as more promising upstarts enter the arena, increased and better options for the managing the disease have the potential to change the lives of over 370 million diabetes sufferers worldwide.