This editor attended TEDMED 2014 in DC and had a chance to speak with some of the innovative start ups in the Hive, a showcase of new medical technologies.
BeneVir has developed an impressive immunotherapy for cancer that has the potential to become a lasting, durable cure to the disease. While other existing immunotherapy treatments exist, these solutions only help the immune system scour the body for known cancer cells afflicting a patient. These solutions fail to educate the immune system on how to predict, recognize, and kill cancer mutations that avoid the immune system and lead to a recurrence of the disease. BeneVir’s solution uses a natural human virus whose genes have been altered to allow the virus to target both the original cancer cells and their mutations. Prior to becoming a company, BeneVir’s founders originally developed their immunotherapy concept and licensed the solution to T-Vec, which was acquired by Amgen for $1B in 2011. This original concept recently completed a Phase 3 clinical trial showing a 16% durable cure for melanoma. With this success, BeneVir was formed to expand on the original innovation with what the founder calls version 2.0 plus. With deep technical knowledge, BeneVir is refining their original immunotherapy solution to become an even more potent cancer therapy.
Edison National Medical is an innovation marketplace and device incubator grown out of the Carolinas HealthCare System. Edison recognizes that when students, physicians, or even small companies have a great idea to tackle a critical medical challenge, there are a number of hurdles between having the idea and getting it to market. Edison’s mission is to bring medical innovations to life through financial support and opportunities, domain expertise, and strategic relationships. Edison’s effort to connect small teams of innovators with large, established companies and clinical groups works both ways. Edison provides an outlet for healthcare companies to identify challenges or projects to which individuals and start ups can submit proposals. While Edison’s portfolio largely includes hardware solutions, the company has increased its expertise in healthcare software and now supports the gamut of innovation. In the event that a product reaches a successful commercialization, Edison shares licensing royalties with the inventors.
EvoTech is an open source medical device development platform created for both developers and consumers with limited access to resources, but who can help create or benefit from medical innovations. On the company’s platform, teams of designers and engineers from around the world work together to develop medical technologies to address the challenges they define.
Once a product is designed, EvoTech works with the developers to create a product that anyone can make themselves or 3D print. In the process of growing their platform, the company has already created their first prototype, an endoscopy camera that can easily be constructed from low cost components. The hardware, software, training, and distribution were all developed as a result of developers across the globe.
Human API aggregates medical information from any health source into a universal health data platform. The team was inspired by the frustration they encountered with data portability, normalization, and formatting while developing their own app solutions. With medical data collection taking place both in and out of the clinic, Human API believes a streamlined API is essential to allow meaningful connections to the slew of medical data sources. Human API sees a future where healthcare solutions can take full advantage of the breadth of available data with holistic analyses that account for the nuances in each patient’s health and lifestyle. With a number of existing integrations including many health and wellness devices, the company is looking to expand their portfolio with a focus on clinical data sources.
Medlio, a DreamIt Health Philadelphia accelerator graduate, plays the role of a healthcare provider search engine, virtual insurance card, and medical data aggregator. As a search engine, Medlio is the Yelp of healthcare. Similar to the popular restaurant-based search engine, patients can apply a variety of filters, including geography and medical specialty, to identify and find providers. Through the Medlio platform, a patient can contact the provider or schedule an appointment. As a virtual insurance card, Medlio stores all the patient’s insurance information in one place and can calculate the patient’s copay or deductible for an upcoming appointment. Finally, patients can store their medical data with Medlio, making it easy to refer to and share their medical history. For example, if a patient is scheduling an appointment with a new provider, they also have the option to share their stored medical history with that provider, avoiding the need for tedious forms and data transfer requests.
MySugr is diabetes health and services company providing patients the education, motivation, and proactive management tools to cope with their disease. With half of the company’s employees already managing their own diabetes, MySugr recognizes the confusion, fear, and apprehension that can be so debilitating to newly diabetic patients. As a result, the company targets pre-diabetic and recently diagnosed diabetics who are still coming to grips with their condition. During that vulnerable transition period, MySugr’s content is imbued with light-hearted elements, like the diabetes monster, to make consumers just a little more comfortable thinking and talking about their disease. While the company’s diabetes app and web platform, MySugr Companion is already available for use, MySugr Academy, a 12-week educational course for type 2 diabetics is forthcoming. Moving forward, the company plans to focus on connectivity to collect more consumer information and provide better feedback to their users. MySugr recently received approval to pursue development of their software as a class 2B risk level medical product in Europe.
SunSprite, originally covered by Medgadget earlier this year, has developed a wearable light tracker to monitor an individual’s bright light and UV exposure. With a direct correlation between light exposure, mood, and health, SunSprite helps to make sure you’re receiving the right amount of light to be happy and healthy. The device itself is clean, simple, and completely solar powered. Attached by a magnetic clip, the display LEDs identify the degree of light exposure you’ve received for the day. 3 lit LEDs means you’ve received 30% of bright light for the day. All the information captured is transmitted to a smartphone app that not only tracks bright light and UV exposure, but also increases awareness. Moving forward, the company plans to develop more analytics and to continue to improve SunSprite’s design, taking into account technical challenges such as the directionality of light striking the body. As of earlier this year, SunSprite successfully completed an Indiegogo campaign with a 134% commitment.
We met with more companies during TEDMED and will continue publishing more of our impressions from the event in the coming days.