Medtech Startups that Turned Heads in Last Year
Startups are the lifeblood of the medtech industry, churning out the cutting-edge innovations that continue to push the envelope on patient care. here’s a look back at a few of the emerging medical device and diagnostics companies md+di covered in 2017 that really caught our readers’ eyes.
launched this year, wilmington, de-based amalgam rx aims to use a digital health app to help patients with type 2 diabetes manage their disease. its isage rx is billed as the world’s first fda-cleared insulin titration app for all brands of insulin and seeks to help doctors tailor insulin treatments to patients’ specific needs. the company isn’t stopping there, either. it plans to expand its platform to include solutions for other chronic diseases, such as psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
irvine, ca-based axonics, founded in 2012, is taking on medtronic’s interstim system neurostimulation device with its rechargeable sacral neuromodulation for treating urinary and bowel dysfunction, which is ce marked and has regulatory approval in canada. study results presented this year for the axonics device showed that more than 70% of patients experienced a 50% or greater reduction in incontinence or urgency-frequency symptoms after one month of treatment. in july, axonics announced a $20.5 million investment.
founded in 2014, milpitas, ca-based bigfoot biomedical is another small company with big players set in its sights. bigfoot is working toward an artificial pancreas solution for type 1 diabetics comprised of proprietary algorithms and software combined with hardware from players like abbott and ypsomed, both of which it partnered with in 2017. the company landed among the finalists for md+di’s medtech company of the year in 2017.
founded in 2005, check-cap, with offices in israel and boston, is developing a pill-camera to screen patients for colorectal cancer. its swallowable c-scan cap uses x-ray imaging to map the colon and is then excreted naturally. early in 2017, the company enrolled the first patient in a 100-patient, multi-center ce mark trial, and in september it filed its ce mark registration. a u.s. pilot trial is expected to begin in the first half of 2018.
berkeley, ca-based eko devices, founded in 2013, has expanded its smartphone-enabled stethoscopes to include a combined digital stethoscope and ekg intended for remote use. the device can monitor heart sounds and electrical activity, as well as send the results to a physician. the eko duo device, which can alert providers of heart failure or atrial fibrillation in a patient, won fda clearance this past summer. the company is also working on adding machine-learning capabilities to automatically warn patients and caregivers of worsening heart function.
irvine, ca-based ivantis, founded in 2007, has been a venture capital darling, raising $96 million since 2011 to support the development of its hydrus microstent for treatment of glaucoma. early this year, the company announced a $25 million series c round that could help bring the device, which is placed minimally invasively, to market in the united states. ivantis expects fda approval sometime next year.
elon musk has already made his mark in the automotive and aerospace industries, and this year he turned his attention to the medtech space. his new san francisco-based upstart, neuralink, is still in the early stages but is reported working to develop implantable brain-computer interfaces. the aim is apparently to help humans keep up with advances in artificial intelligence, but potential applications could carry over into the medtech realm. deep brain stimulation is already being used to treat symptoms of parkinson’s, epilepsy, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
massachusetts-based podimetrics, formed in 2011, is tackling diabetic foot ulcers with a smart mat that detects temperature abnormalities in patients’ feet to diagnose the problem more than a month before symptoms are visible. the company’s fda-cleared smartmat is designed for home use and connects wirelessly to a cloud-connected monitoring service that identifies clinicians when an ulcer may be developing. to date, the technology has been tested in more than 650 homes, including a 129-participant, 34-week evaluation that finished this year.
los angeles-based neural analytics, founded in 2013, won fda clearance for the lucid m1 transcranial doppler ultrasound system for assessing cerebrovascular function in 2016. the technology behind the device is nothing new, but neural analytics hopes to eventually improve on it by incorporating robotics and machine learning to speed stroke intervention by enabling the device to be used outside of hospitals and stroke centers and without the help of a skilled clinician.
cambridge, ma-based portal instruments, founded in 2012, is working with japanese pharmaceutical company takeda to ease the pain associated with delivering biologics. its device uses pressurized liquid in lieu of a needle to deliver drugs intended to treat chronic conditions such as ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease. the device is intended for self-administration by patients and can deliver a 1 ml dose in under a second.