SFC Fluidics of Fayetteville is closer to bringing its first product, a wearable insulin pump, to market, thanks to its partnership with JDRF.
JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is a New York City-based global nonprofit that funds Type 1 diabetes research.
SFC Fluidics CEO Anthony Cruz said the partnership, announced two weeks ago, offers two years’ worth of funding to the company.
JDRF declined to disclose how much funding it is providing.
But money is not the only benefit of the partnership, Cruz said. It also gives SFC access to experts.
Cruz said the company will need more funding than the JDRF is providing, and it is raising that money now.
SFC employs about 15 people and was founded in 2003 to develop drug delivery and dosing products. It has a satellite location in Atlanta and is a portfolio company of VIC Technology Venture Development in Fayetteville.
SFC’s specific focus is Type 1 diabetes products.
“The management team that we have at the company, we are veterans of the health care industry … It just so happened that we all had a common background in working in diabetes. We were familiar with the struggle. We have relatives who have [Type 1], actually, and very significant familiarity with the disease and how difficult it is to manage,” Cruz said. “So it was one of those things where we knew there was a need to try to improve that process for managing the disease, and we thought we had a great technology foundation to supply that.”
SFC’s new pump will be a patch about 2 inches wide and a half-inch thick, he said. It can be placed on the skin and is connected, wirelessly, to a smartphone app. By using the app, patients can program the pump, telling it when and how much insulin to inject subcutaneously, Cruz said.
The disposable pump is battery powered and houses a reservoir that contains three days’ worth of insulin.
Insulin moves from the reservoir into the patient when voltage is applied to the pump, Cruz said. How long the voltage is applied dictates how much insulin is delivered.
He said the pump removes the need for patients to inject themselves using a syringe or insulin pen, so it can reduce human error in dosing and issue an alert if there is a blockage that prevents a dose from being administered.
If the pump is approved by the Food & Drug Administration as expected, Cruz said, it could be on the market in early 2020. He said it’s likely that it would then be up to doctors to prescribe the pump.
The pump and the partnership are part of a bigger picture that includes JDRF’s Artificial Pancreas Project & Open-Protocol Automated Insulin Delivery (AID) Systems Initiative.
Open protocol is a term that refers to devices that can interact without the need for a proprietary interface or gateway; in other words, the devices speak the same language.
The Artificial Pancreas Project’s goal is to accelerate advanced treatments based on AID systems that include an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor and a closed-loop algorithm, according to JDRF Research Director Daniel Finan.
The broader initiative, he wrote in an email to Arkansas Business, came about because traditional regulatory pathways were “onerous and sluggish” — slowing innovation and leaving patients with a lack of choices in products — and patients responded by using do-it-yourself approaches to their treatment. They mixed and matched products.
So “this partnership with SFC will accelerate the delivery to market of an open-protocol insulin pump — a necessary component of an open-protocol AID system — and thereby provide people with [Type 1 diabetes] more freedom in determining what AID system components are right for them,” Finan wrote.
Meanwhile, Cruz envisions SFC’s technology having an even broader application.
“We believe that one of the advantages that we have as a company is that we have the technology that can actually go from a very simple pump patch to a more connected device, not only for diabetes, but also other drugs that need subcutaneous injections,” he said. “You see a lot of people nowadays wearing the Fitbits … That kind of digital health care is going to move forward, and we believe that we have the technology that can go with that evolution.”
(Correction: A previous version of this article stated that JDRF was headquartered in London. We have corrected the error.)