7 diabetes health tech startups to watch in 2013
Choreographer Wayne McGregor told the nonprofit TED that the human body is "the most technologically literate thing that we have." Indeed, the body is interacting more and more often with health-related software and devices. In the field of diabetes prevention, monitoring and treatment, health care tech start-ups are designing tools to help individuals living with the disease -- and their care providers -- track and manage treatment. Here are seven of the firms tackling diabetes technology, shown with the status of their projects as of early 2013.
Diabetes health technology startups innovating the future
CareLogger: Web entrepreneurs Dan McGrady and Nick Van Nuil founded this health startup in 2009 and launched the technology in 2010. The founders, according to the company's website, are passionate about health care and maintain this program as a side project. CareLogger's goal is to make it easier for patients and their doctors to determine what is -- or isn't -- working in their treatment and management of diabetes. McGrady and Nuil designed Web-based and mobile apps to let patients log key health metrics, like blood glucose levels, weight, blood pressure and exercise. Users can set health goals and monitor their progress over time through full color charts and graphs.
exsulin: The founders of this startup were determined to create therapies to actually reverse an underlying cause of diabetes: the loss of insulin producing islets. This peptide-based drug was designed to improve glucose control in patients with type 1 diabetes, though type 2 diabetes is next on the company's list. The exsulin website proposes its new therapy could be a major diabetes breakthrough along the lines of insulin, though it is not yet clear whether the pharmaceutical can live up to its hype, as it is in Phase II clinical trials in 2013.
Ginger.io: Founded in 2011 by MIT scientists and engineers Anmol Madan and Karan Singh, Ginger.io is a health care startup with offices in San Francisco and Cambridge, Mass. According to its official website, Ginger.io designed a mobile platform with predictive health models to let users -- and their health care providers -- track behaviors and identify trends that could lead to or exacerbate chronic health issues, like diabetes. Madan told TechCrunch that the startup's smartphone app is a sort of "check-engine light" for one's personal health. Tech Crunch reported in November 2012 that Ginger.io raised $6.5 million in Series A funding, and the firm employs a wide variety of engineers, data scientists and clinical advisers.
Glooko: This Silicon Valley-based startup wants to leverage the power of technology to help diabetics take charge of their health. Founded in 2010, Glooko has designed a mobile app that allows patients to record and log their blood glucose levels and compare them over time. Users can also track nutritional data and insulin activities, and share their logbooks with their health care providers. According to CrunchBase, in January 2013, Glooko also won FDA approval for its mobile diabetes tracker, a cable that syncs glucose monitors with users' smartphones. As of 2013, Glooko has raised $4.5 million in funding, including $3.5 million in Series A funding.
GreenDot: One of the youngest startups on our list, GreenDot has already generated a buzz. It was founded by two endocrinologists at the University of California, San Francisco -- Jenise Wong and Aaron Neinstein -- who told Medgadget that they were frustrated by the sheer amount of data generated by diabetes-related devices and logging software. They wanted to find a way to capture it all in one place for patients and doctors to manage and analyze. GreenDot, an open source platform, collects data from a number of devices -- like glucometers, insulin pumps and diabetes-related mobile apps -- with the goal of storing it securely online. Wong and Neinstein did a demo at UCSF's Unusual Thinkers track at Dreamforce in September 2012, and it is not yet clear how the new platform could impact patient care.
Omada Health: This Silicon Valley health care startup was founded by Sean Duffy, Adrian James and Andrew DiMichele, leading a team of entrepreneurs with experience at companies such as Google and Amazon. Omada uses the power of technology and social networking to create behavior-change programs that it hopes can be both effective and accessible. In 2012 it launched Prevent, a 16-week Web-based program based on the NIH's Diabetes Prevention Program. Prevent seeks to help higher risk patients avoid developing type 2 diabetes, organizing participants into web-based support groups and helping them track health and lifestyle metrics, like diet, exercise habits and weight. According to CrunchBase, Omada has raised about $820,000 in seed funding.
Podimetrics: Podimetrics is a small startup in Cambridge, Mass., run by students and alumni of MIT, Harvard Business School and Stanford. Podimetrics focuses on one of the complications of diabetes, foot ulcers. The Podimetrics website cites research findings that 25 percent of individuals with diabetes could develop foot ulcers, some of which lead to infections and amputations. MIT reports that the team was among the winners at H@cking Medicine in 2011, where it sketched out plans for a data-transmitting shoe insole that could serve as an early warning system for these ulcers. CrunchBase notes that in 2012, Podimetrics raised $20,000 in venture funding, and BostInno describes the support the firm received from health tech accelerator, Rock Health.
Developments in diabetes technology
You could subscribe to scholarly journals to track diabetes treatments and prevention tools, or you could follow startups like the ones we've featured here. These innovative companies represent just a few of those working to improve diabetes care, and more are likely to follow soon.