Startups, Health IT

Eccrine Systems CEO likens much of noninvasive wearables market to early 1900s medicine

The problem with the current state of noninvasive wearables is that they lack the accuracy and specificity required to derive actionable insights from them.

Testing device on arm

Eccrine Systems’ “sweatronics” platform uses a disposable patch to analyze sweat to measure stress levels, electrolytes, and more.

 

Cincinnati-based health tech startup Eccrine Systems has closed a $5.5 million Series A round, according to a news release. The funding will be used to advance its “sweatronics” platform, which uses a noninvasive wearable to measure the chemical makeup of the user’s sweat. The disposable electronic patch is designed to measure electrolytes and stress levels.

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Eccrine is developing several different wearable devices based on the sweatronics platform, some of them will involve a U.S. Food and Drug Administration pathway for 510(k) clearance. But in a phone interview, Eccrine Systems CEO and Co-founder Robert Beech noted that the initial markets Eccrine is pursuing are for Class 1 medical devices that would not require FDA approval.

“Sweat holds great promise as the best non-invasive source for acquiring the type of molecular data and physiological insights that the medical community has historically collected and analyzed from blood,” Beech said in the news release. “Advances in microfluidics, nanotechnology, miniaturized electronics and power management are now making it possible to engineer wearable sweat sensing systems to monitor a wide array of sweat molecules in real-time.”

Beech contrasted the company’s rigorous, scientific approach with the proliferation of non-invasive wearable companies seeking to measure heart rate and other vitals data. The problem with the current state of noninvasive wearables is that they lack the accuracy and specificity required to derive actionable insights from them.

“It’s like early 1900’s medicine…before there was molecular blood testing,” Beech observed.

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Most digital health companies developing heart rhythm tracking devices that can be purchased over the counter aren’t interested in investing in the kinds of gold standard testing to validate their technology. That has led to a lot of skepticism, particularly regarding the predictive value of non-invasive wearables.

Beech offered a wide range of applications for the sweat assessment tool. It could be used to gain actionable information on stress management in adverse conditions from the military to stock trading to athletics. Partnering with pharma companies for clinical trial monitoring is another area of interest. Furthermore, the device has applications in medicine from medication adherence to keeping track of electrolyte levels for cystic fibrosis and other disease states. There is also relevance for ovulation monitoring.

Eccrine led the financing round, which also included participation from CincyTech Fund IV and other private investors in the region. The Series A follows a $1.5 million seed round raised by the company last year.

The company plans to use the new funding to double the size of its workforce, adding more staff in research and development, manufacturing and product development. Eccrine is developing several different wearable based on its Sweatronics platform, some of them will involve an US Food and Drug Administration pathway for 510(k) clearance. But Beech noted that the initial markets Eccrine are for class 1 devices that would not require FDA approval.

Photo: Eccrine Systems