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Screening Device Company Kicks-Off Type 1 Diabetes Network

Blood sample tubes


24 Mar. 2023. A developer of a blood-testing device that screens for kidney disease risks is the first company to join a network to advance new technology for type 1 diabetes. Journey Biosciences in Lebanon, New Hampshire is the initial participant in the T1D Moonshot, a program offered by StartUp Health in New York that brings together entrepreneurs, institutions, and funders to accelerate innovations in health care.

T1D Moonshot, says StartUp Health, is one of the organization’s programs that forms collaboration networks providing training, advice, mentorship, and technical support to life science and health care entrepreneurs developing treatments and diagnostics for high-priority health issues. In this case, the issue is type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, thus preventing production of insulin. While type 1 diabetes was once called juvenile diabetes, the disorder can affect people of all ages.

People with type 1 diabetes, estimated at five to 10 percent of all individuals with diabetes, need to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels, and give themselves replacement insulin either through injection or an insulin pump. In addition, people with diabetes face higher risks of other chronic diseases, including heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney disorders. The burden of type 1 diabetes, says StartUp Health, is often felt beyond individuals with the disease, to families and communities, requiring an organized and focused initiative to advance new diagnostics and treatments.

Networks put start-up founders together with funders

The T1D Moonshot received a key financial boost this week with funding from the Helmsley Charitable Trust in New York. Type 1 diabetes is one of the Helmsley Trust’s support targets, and the foundation announced a program-related investment in StartUp Health for the T1D Moonshot. The form of investment — e.g., loan or grant — and amount were not disclosed. However, the funding is expected to support 25 or more entrepreneurs with fellowships that StartUp Health says are designed to accelerate technologies addressing type 1 diabetes, while breaking down barriers and silos dividing research from development and commercialization.

While StartUp Health’s moonshots do not provide direct funding, the organization says its entrepreneurial coaching and advisor networks put start-up founders together with funders, where entrepreneurs can pitch their technologies. StartUp Health says companies taking part in its moonshot programs so far raised more than $5 billion in venture financing.

Journey Biosciences is developing a blood test for risks of kidney disease complications from diabetes called NaviDKD. The company says the test measures and calculates an individual’s chance of developing future kidney complications as a result of diabetes, rather than assessing current kidney functions. Adam Graybill, Journey Biosciences’ president and CEO says in a statement the company “is committed to supporting people living with diabetes through a new category of predictive technologies that identify the risk of diabetes-related complications earlier than current practices allow.”

The NaviDKD technology evaluates advanced glycation end products in blood samples that form from the interaction of reducing sugars, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids either in prepared foods, or as a result of metabolic processes. Accumulations of advanced glycation end products in blood can become toxic, and are an indicator of reduced ability to rid the body of toxins, a function of kidneys. The Journey Biosciences device is based on research by endocrinologist Paul Beisswenger, professor emeritus at Dartmouth University medical school and the company’s chief scientist.

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