The Greater Boston Diabetes Cluster
More than one of our readers has noted recently that the Boston area is home to a mighty cluster of companies dedicated to providing new treatments and devices for diabetics. So, after a bit of investigation, we’ve compiled a list of local firms that represent some of the most promising advances in diabetes care.
Of course, New England is home to one of the largest life sciences sectors in the country—and we’ve got significant numbers of companies focused on improving the lives of people with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many other serious ailments. “In all facets of healthcare we have great local talent,” says Michael Greeley, managing general partner of Boston venture firm Flybridge Capital Partners. “It just happens that diabetes is a huge problem that these multiple firms, through therapeutic or devices or health IT, all address.”
A huge problem indeed: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were 23.7 million Americans with diabetes in 2007 and growing. And the increase in patients has increased demand for new ways to treat, diagnose and monitor various forms of the disease—including Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, and Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, in which the body’s tissues fail to respond normally to insulin.
Below are nearly a dozen firms in Boston and environs dedicated to developing new drugs, medical devices, or diagnostics to combat diabetes. (As always, please leave a comment if you think we’ve missed a company or two that should be on the list.)
DEVICES AND DIAGNOSTICS
AgaMatrix makes blood-glucose meters designed to provide ultra-sensitive readings, using digital signaling algorithms that measure variables such as altitude that can cause readings to be inaccurate. The company was co-founded by former MIT graduate student Sonny Vu, who now serves as chairman of the board.
GI Dynamics is developing a single device that could help people with Type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar while helping them lose weight. The startup aims to gain regulatory clearance to sell its so-called EndoBarrier, which is a sleeve that lines a section of the small intestine, as a treatment for both Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Luke wrote a great post about some of the firm’s latest progress in clinical trials.