World Diabetes Day: Discover 3 EIC-funded startups driving innovation to defeat Diabetes
Every year, on 14th November, World Diabetes Day comprises several campaigns and activities to raise awareness on the impact of this disease while promoting its care and prevention. But this year’s celebration has a special meaning because it also marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin. 100 years after its discovery, millions of people with diabetes still can’t access the care they need, and the disease caused 4.2 million deaths just in 2019. This chronic disease is not yet curable, but innovators from all corners of the world are advancing in diabetes research and bringing cutting-edge technology that stands out in the market. In the light of this World Day, the European Innovation Council Community met with 3 EIC-funded startups working in the diabetes space with innovative solutions to change its care and treatment.
Walk with Path: improving mobility for diabetic patients
Among other symptoms, diabetes may cause peripheral neuropathy, which is generated by long-term high blood sugar levels, leading to nerve damage. For patients with diabetes, it is very common to start being affected by peripheral neuropathy in their legs and feet. This can result in loss of balance and eventually in the inability to walk. To help patients walk safely again, Walk with Path, an innovative Danish SME, has created Path Feel, an insole that provides vibrational feedback directly to your soles. It was designed for people with peripheral neuropathy who cannot feel the ground properly due to sensory deficit.
Besides amplifying feet's sense of touch, Path Feel insoles come with a user-friendly app that monitors diabetic patients' health status. Lise Pape, Founder and Managing Director of Walk with Path, explained to us the process: "Through vibrational feedback to the feet, we see that people can achieve better balance and mobility in our ongoing clinical trial. The insoles also gather a range of data about the wearer's walking, which can be used to understand risks of falling or developing ulcers.".
Lise also added that continuing to support and improve the lives of patients with diabetes is an objective for Walk with Path: "Diabetes is a critical global health issue that we seek to help people and clinicians manage better. We would also like to ask people with diabetes to get in touch with us via email@example.com, as we continue to seek user input to ensure our solutions can positively impact as many people as possible.".
Indigo: diabetes self-management for better life quality
Diabetes is one of the big health challenges of the century. With an increasing number of people suffering from this condition, implementing efficient systems to help patients monitor their glucose levels is crucial. However, the current Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) has various shortcomings. Indigo is bringing to market a needle-free and a low-cost solution called a continuous multi-metabolite monitoring system (CMM).
The Belgian biotech SME Indigo provides innovative high-tech solutions for advanced biomarker sensing, focusing on delivering the best user experience and highest product quality. Their objective is to support people living with diabetes with access to information on their glucose and other metabolite levels at any given time, without requiring them to wear an external device on their body.
Danaë Delbeke, CEO of Indigo, talked to us about the company's goals: "Good self-management allows people with diabetes to live a longer and healthier life. It is Indigo's mission to provide an innovative, accurate and convenient monitoring solution to light up the life of millions of people living with diabetes.".
Poltreg: type 1 diabetes treatment and prevention
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an incurable, autoimmune disease, that accounts for 10% of the almost 400 million global diabetes cases. Poltreg, a startup that spinned-off from the Medical University of Gdańsk in Poland, has developed an innovative method of cell therapy for patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The treatment’s innovativeness lies in the reduction of the disease’s causes, and not only on the clinical symptoms.
It is believed that deficiency or abnormal function of the immune cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs) is one of the reasons for developing an autoimmune disease such as T1D. What Poltreg’s biotechnology aims to do is to increase the count of Tregs, allowing them to limit, and in some cases even stop, the disease progression. Poltreg is now preparing their final trial, hoping that after this step is completed, their innovative treatment will be available to all T1D patients in the need of the therapy.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease still surrounded by questions, according to Piotr Trzonkowski, CEO of Poltreg: “We still do not know why patients develop this form of diabetes and we are not sure why the morbidity accelerates so sharply”. However, his company is proud to be working on possible solutions: “We also know that Poltreg developed the solution – disease-modifying therapy based on T regulatory cells capable of stopping the autoimmune attack on pancreas. Our mission is to provide this treatment to all patients in the need.”.