10 Diabetes care digital health startups in the US
Prior to the 1920s and the discovery of injectable insulin, diabetes was a runaway fatal disease. In the near 100 years since it may be more manageable but it is still a disease requiring constant blood sugar monitoring in order to avoid the many – some fatal – complications of diabetes. In 2015, it still ranked as the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 23 million people in the US are living with diabetes and another 7 million are undiagnosed. Another 85 million are prediabetic, including 23 million adults over 65 years of age. 
In normal healthy individuals, blood glucose levels and numerous other physiological activities are monitored and regulated by the endocrine cells in the pancreatic Islets of Langerhans.
However, in diabetes, this monitoring and regulation do not function properly, and in type 1 diabetes (T1D) in particular, specific cell types are lost or severely damaged, including insulin-producing beta cells.
The greatest challenge of diabetes is knowing the actual blood sugar levels of patients. For the past 100 years, that involved planning meals and frequent blood testing with needles. That testing is needed not only to determine if insulin is necessary but also for estimating the metered dosage. Under or overdosing could have sometimes inconvenient or otherwise devastating effects.
With the prevalence of Big Data and more sophisticated monitoring, both the challenge of blood testing and insulin dosing have been gathering a great deal of momentum – and funding. One of today’s best healthcare information technology niches is diabetic care. Information technology is a great resource for working with diabetic patients and its potential is increasing exponentially.
Thanks to this list of the top ten US diabetic care startups, the research and production of life-changing products and services are working towards numerous breakthroughs. Almost three-quarters of a billion dollars went to these companies that are paving the way for healthier – and potential diabetes-free – patients.
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Top US diabetes care startups
- InsuletLocation:Billerica, MA| Funding: $185 millionFounded in 2000, Insulet Corporation is a medical device company that provides a 3-day non-stop insulin delivery through its OmniPod Insulin Management System. The OmniPod is a waterproof, tubeless, hands-free insulin pump with just two parts and a fully-automated cannula insertion. It connects wirelessly to a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) with glucose monitor and care management software. Over 100,000 OmniPod users have benefitted from this injection-free system.
- ViaCyteLocation: San Diego CA| Funding: $111.5 millionViaCyte is a leader in the emerging field of regenerative medicine, based on the differentiation of stem cells into pancreatic beta cell precursors. By inserting a subcutaneous implant, the precursor cells (PEC-01) mature into endocrine cells that secrete insulin and other hormones in a regulated manner to control blood glucose levels. The Encaptra cell delivery system being developed is critical to delivering the stem cells for diabetic recovery in particular but other therapies are being explored as well.
ViaCyte’s goal is actually freeing patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes from long-term insulin dependence.
- Bigfoot BiomedicalLocation: Milpitas, CA | Funding: $87 millionBigfoot Biomedical co-founder Bryan Mazlish applied his machine learning experience from automated day trading to the development of models for predicting blood sugar levels. His personal mission to enrich the lives of his son and wife has become a flourishing business promise for “simpler, safer, and more effective insulin delivery system for people with insulin-dependent diabetes”.
- Semma TherapeuticsLocation: Cambridge MA | Funding: $44 millionSemma Therapeutics is working with a discovery of a method to generate billions of functional, insulin-producing beta cells in the laboratory. Semma Therapeutics plan on combining these proprietary cells with a state-of-the-art device that can “protect these cells from the patient’s immune system and allow the beta cells to function as they do in non-diabetic individuals”.
- GlookoLocation: Mountain View CA | Funding: $71 millionFounded in 2010, Glooko made Fast Company’s The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2018. Its FDA-cleared, HIPAA-compliant Web and Mobile application synchronizes with over 150 diabetes devices and major fitness and activity trackers. This provides vital data such as blood glucose, carbs, insulin, blood pressure, diet and weight data to patients and caregiver for timely tracking and analysis.
- VerilyLocation: USA | Funding: $80 millionVerily is developing tools and platforms to enable more continuous health data collection for timely decision-making and effective interventions. Verily creates interventions to prevent and manage the disease. Verily also emphasizes significant joint partnerships transform healthcare delivery.
- MC10Location: Lexington, MA | Funding: $72.5 millionMC10 is developing several products that marry hardware and software for biometric healthcare analytics. MC10’s software platform of mobile interfaces, cloud storage and analytical tools supports provides a variety of analytics via Big Data and machine learning. “Lean, agile software development” creates “robust systems to support a high volume of data gathered by the BioStamp and WiSP platforms.
- SanoLocation: San Francisco CA | Funding: $20.6 millionSano is building a small, wearable sensor that can capture and transmit blood chemistry data continuously to virtually any device. The device is low-profile and the company intends its use for multiple healthcare applications in addition to diabetes specifically.
- Beta BionicsLocation: Boston MA | Funding: $12.4 millionBeta Bionics is a medical device company doing business as a public benefit corporation, which makes it the only not for profit on this list. Beta Bionics claims to be the only public benefit company in the diabetes space. Beta Bionics produces the iLet – a fully integrated bionic pancreas.
- BiolinqLocation: USA | Funding: $10 millionFrom research at UC San Diego, Biolinq develops skin-applied electronic sensors for a pain-free means to monitor glucose. The company hopes to evolve to an extensive array of biomarkers with the same technology.
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