iLet Bionic Pancreas — Beta Bionics, a startup created by Boston University biomedical engineer Ed Damiano, hit the benchmark Wednesday night after 775 members of the public put up an average of $1,300 each to back its idea for a new kind of pacemaker for diabetics.
To build a technology that will automatically manage our children’s diabetes, day and night, and keep them safe from the far-reaching harms, the immediate dangers, the emotional burden, and the fear that type 1 diabetes carries with it every day of their lives. That technology will provide a bridge that spans the divide between where we are today and the biological cure of tomorrow – a cure that has been ever present in our dreams, and ever elusive from our lives.
The artificial pancreas technology was developed by Damiano, whose teenage son has type 1 diabetes and has to inject himself with insulin or risk going into a diabetic coma. While some diabetics already use implanted sensors to read levels of glucose in their blood, Beta Bionics’s device, called the iLet, would also automatically pump insulin into the body when needed, creating a hands-off system.
The company sold shares on the crowdfunding portal Wefunder, which along with sites like StartEngine and Flashfunders, is taking advantage of securities regulations that since May have let private companies easily sell shares directly to the public, not only professional investors.
Beta Bionics could become a test case for crowdfunding and the tech industry’s position that the public should be able to invest in risky startups. Companies raising funds using the new rules include Legion M, “the first Hollywood studio owned by fans,” a brewery in Texas, and a company developing novelty genetically modified organisms.
The new process, known as “regulation crowdfunding,” represents the latest easing of securities laws set in motion by the JOBS Act of 2012 and is meant to modernize investing.
The company will be competing with other artificial pancreases under development, including one created by Medtronic that could be commercialized next year.
And that’s not the only risk that investors of Beta Bionics face. In order to pay for its studies, it’s also counting on winning a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. But there’s no guarantee that will happen. “We are blazing a new trail here, and as with any endeavor that attempts to do so, there are a few things that can go wrong along the way,” the company told prospective investors.
Beta Bionics Profile:
At Beta Bionics, Inc., they have developed a bionic pancreas called the iLet, a pocket-sized, wearable medical device that autonomously manages blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Our iLet technology has demonstrated dramatic improvements in clinical outcomes. Through its ability to continuously adapt to the ever-changing insulin needs of people with diabetes, the iLet is the quintessential embodiment of personalized medicine – a sturdy and irrevocable bridge to the ever-elusive cure.