A Bristol MedTech spinout has secured £1.1 million to develop the world’s first 100% needle-free platform for blood sugar monitoring.

Transdermal Diagnostics’s technology aims to allow pain-free and continuous monitoring of sugar levels for people with diabetes using affordable disposable patches. 

Diabetes is a global health crisis currently afflicting hundreds of millions of people and is projected to rise to 783 million by 2045. Commercial sugar monitors are unpleasant, expensive,  inconvenient, and cause poor disease management, exposing patients to an increased risk of developing life-threatening co-morbidities and reducing overall life expectancy.

TD is addressing this challenge by developing a wearable smart-patch for non-invasive and real-time monitoring of health biomarkers. The technology uses miniaturised biosensors to sample the fluid that bathes the living cells of the skin, in which biomarkers, including sugar, are at very similar levels to those in blood.

The patented platform features a unique multiplex architecture that makes use of preferential pathways in the skin to access this fluid.  A major selling point of the approach is that the amount of sugar extracted can be detected and quantified non-invasively, without puncturing or disrupting the skin, thereby avoiding any need for a blood sample or the use of needles. 

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The funding round was led by QUBIS Innovation Fund, which specialises in innovation focused spin-out companies, and includes Pioneer Group, Immetric, Bristol Private Equity Club, Science Angel Syndicate as well as Innovate UK funding.  

It will be used to strengthen the company’s engineering team and prepare for clinical trials. 

“We are excited to have on board investors with a deep understanding of the transformative potential of Transdermal Diagnostics’ technology platform,” said co-founder and CEO Dr Luca Lipani. 

“These funds will kick-start our mission to revolutionise the prevention, diagnosis and management of chronic conditions, starting with diabetes.”

Dr Adelina Ilie, chief scientific officer and co-founder, added: “The technology required a truly interdisciplinary approach, and was only made possible by the latest advances across multiple fields, such as advanced nanomaterials, nano- and bio-technology, and machine learning-driven data analysis. 

“Scalable methods able to deliver a device like ours on a flexible platform were also essential.”

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Transdermal Diagnostics is a member of Spin Up Science Ventures accelerator program. Transdermal Diagnostics’ growth, and its regulatory and commercial plans, have been further catalysed by taking part in the Pioneer LAUNCH programme and SETsquared Scale-up programme,  the award of the Health Technology Regulatory and Innovation Programme and the Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) programme, and support from the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN).

Andrew Drylie from Sapphire Capital Partners LLP, investment manager of The Innovation Fund, said: “The transdermal approach for glucose monitoring that Transdermal Diagnostics is developing will have a disruptive impact on the diabetes market, we are additionally excited by the company’s potential to expand into the wellness and sports nutrition industries. This funding round alongside the Innovate UK funding will help support them in this journey.”