Abbott and Bigfoot Biomedical have entered into an agreement to develop and commercialize diabetes management systems, integrating Abbott's FreeStyle Libre glucose sensing technology with Bigfoot's insulin delivery solutions.
Under the agreement, Abbott will supply glucose measurement sensors for all of Bigfoot's insulin delivery systems in the U.S. as the exclusive sensors for those systems.
Bigfoot, meanwhile, will develop and commercialize multiple systems using Abbott's FreeStyle Libre sensor technology -- including systems designed to perform auto-titration for Bigfoot's connected insulin injection devices -- as well as automated insulin delivery using Bigfoot's insulin infusion platform.
“Our mission is to develop a smart insulin delivery system, and that requires an ability to continuously sense glucose,” said Bigfoot CEO Jeffrey Brewer. “We have been involved since the founding of Bigfoot in evaluating what would be the best sensor.” After some test trials, the company decided that in order to reach the widest possible audience it would be best to develop a non-finger-pricking technology; thus the partnership with Abbott was born.
Bigfoot currently has both injection and infusion pump-based insulin delivery systems in development. These systems utilize Internet of Things connectivity, smartphone technology and machine learning automation to adjust insulin delivery or dosing, with the intent to keep glucose levels in an optimal range. The company expects to kickstart a trial incorporating FreeStyle Libre technology in 2018 at clinical research sites across the country.
Abbott's FreeStyle Libre system was first introduced in Europe in 2014, and is now available in more than 35 countries and used by more than 300,000 people with diabetes around the world, according to the company. Two published clinical trials show that people who use the FreeStyle Libre system scan their glucose levels an average of at least 15 times per day. They also show that people who scan more frequently spend less time in hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia while having improved average glucose levels, demonstrating improved glucose control overall.
All people with Type 1 diabetes, and nearly one third of people with Type 2 diabetes, must inject insulin to manage their glucose -- that's more than 6 million people in the U.S. alone.
"Diabetes is increasing at record rates globally.” said Jared Watkin, senior vice president of diabetes care at Abbott, in a statement. “There is a significant demand for tools that are intuitive and easy to use to help people take control of this complicated, challenging condition, but innovation in this area has been slow. … This will fundamentally transform the way diabetes is managed."
In January, Bigfoot announced an investment from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s newly launched venture fund, T1D, focused on early stage companies working on type 1 diabetes. The terms of the investment were not disclosed, but Bigfoot previously raised $35.5 million. The funding was slated to be used for Bigfoot’s automated insulin delivery service.