The consensus at this year’s Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit was that changing the course of the obesity and diabetes epidemic will require a melting pot effort toward prevention by the food industry, schools, healthcare providers, consumers and the healthcare industry. It’s also going to take a while.
Startups were a bigger part of the summit this year than ever before. Here are a few technologies aimed at preventing, treating or improving quality of life for people with obesity and diabetes that caught my attention at the summit.
Device/cell therapy combo for type 1 diabetes
Transplantation of islet cells, which produce insulin, has been around for a while. However, the scarcity of donor islet cells and the response of the immune system to those donor cells has been a challenge for scalability and commercialization. Sernova Corp. has developed a pouch to be implanted under the skin in the abdomen of a person with type 1 diabetes, which would act as a natural and protected environment for transplanted islet cells. It’s also working on a complimentary compound that would be mixed with donor cells to protect them from attack by immune cells.
Retinal imaging app for glucose monitoring
This company didn’t present at the summit, but the CEO of IRISense was attending and talked with me about and app that the University of Toledo spinout was developing to replace daily finger sticks with retinal imaging to monitor blood glucose levels. The goal is to increase compliance with testing and keeping glucose levels under control.
Anti-gravity foot brace for diabetic neuropathy
A broken foot turned into a business venture for the founder of Toad Medical. The company developed a suspension brace that unloads weight from the foot and ankle and allows people to remain mobile as their foot injuries heal. About half of its customers so far have been diabetic patients with foot ulcers.
Hepatic targeting for insulin
Diasome Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing a nanotechnology-based delivery system that it says can attach to all of the commercially available forms of insulin and carry them to hepatocytes, which are the primary metabolic cells in the liver. It’s targeting a 2016 NDA for its hepatocyte-directed vessel technology, which has been tested in more than 400 patients in Phase 2 trials.
“Gastric vest” system
Onciomed is running clinical trials of its implant for treatment of obesity and diabetes in countries outside of the U.S. During a laparoscopic procedure, the stomach is tucked into itself and the Gastric Vest System is placed around it so that it holds the shape of a channel to the intestine. That way, food passes through the stomach more quickly, allowing for satiety signals to be sent to the brain sooner.
It’s a less invasive, reversible alternative to other forms of bariatric surgery, said Dr. Raj Nihalani, the inventor. The company recently closed a Series A round and will start commercialization in Europe first.
[Image credit: Toad Medical]