Woman in a sofa performing a self test

Prospect for home tests for patients with low metabolism

Tuesday 01 Feb 22
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Winnie Edith Svendsen
Professor
DTU Bioengineering
+45 31 25 93 69

Home test of metabolic hormone

HEI Therapeutics aim to develop the world’s first home monitoring solution for patients with too low a metabolism. It will be based on state-of-the-art microfluidics, microtechnology and artificial intelligence. 

The solution enables the patients to measure the level of metabolic hormone themselves, and via a digital solution which is also being developed by the company, they will be able to track hormone levels, well-being, and symptoms to make it easier to optimize their treatment in collaboration with clinicians.

New start-up develops home tests for patients with low metabolism.

Home monitoring of the body's production of metabolic hormone may become a reality for more than 200 million patients living with low metabolism. A new digital start-up company from DTU, HEI Therapeutics, is developing the world's first home monitoring solution based on state-of-the-art micro technology, artificial intelligence and microfluidics, which is technology that can detect substances in very small fluid samples. The technology is used, for example, in covid tests.

“Approximately 200 million people globally suffering from hypothyroidism, and many of them have a significantly poorer quality of life than the rest of the population, but very little innovation has been directed at potential treatments, and no digital tools exist on the market for home monitoring and personal treatment. It was for this reason that we started to look into the matter. Through various grants from DTU, we have obtained scientific data that indicates that we can offer a solution which can provide better treatment for this patient group,” says one of the start-up’s founders, Professor Winnie Svendsen from DTU Bioengineering.

Too low a basal metabolic rate—or hypothyroidism—is due to the thyroid gland producing too little metabolic hormone.  The symptoms are many and nonspecific, for example increased sensitivity to cold, weight gain, fatigue and depression. Such symptoms are often incorrectly diagnosed as being caused by another illness such as stress, depression or age-related ailments, and many patients therefore remain undiagnosed.

"This is a very good example of how it pays to strengthen innovation at the universities and invest heavily in close collaborations with patients, clinicians, and other experts outside the universities. This is where the universities’ basic research and technological advances can really make a difference for people."
Head of Department Bjarke Bak Christensen, DTU Bioengineering

Moreover, even when the correct diagnosis is made, many patients are medicated incorrectly, and this leads to reduced quality of life, reduced readiness for work and increased risk of complications and mortality.

HEI Therapeutics' solution is based on a method for detecting the thyroid hormone that controls metabolism, through a tiny chip made with patented technology, which was originally developed at DTU. Patients will therefore be able to measure the level of metabolic hormone themselves and via a digital solution, which is also developed in the company, they will be able to track hormone levels, well-being and symptoms to make it easier for patients to optimize their treatment in collaboration with clinicians.

“This is a very good example of how it pays to strengthen innovation at the universities and invest heavily in close collaborations with patients, clinicians, and other experts outside the universities. This is where the universities’ basic research and technological advances can really make a difference for people,” says Bjarke Bak Christensen, Head of Department, DTU Bioengineering, about the start-up.

The company’s solution, which is being developed in close collaboration with patients and clinicians, gives patients a better opportunity to master their condition while providing new digital tools for continuous monitoring and treatment. Jesper Kimer, a co-founder of HEI Therapeutics, explains:

“I’ve been involved in developing patient-focused digital health solutions in related industries, and I’ve seen the power of patient empowerment first hand. It moves the needle in terms of medical compliance and health outcomes. A major advantage of digital solutions is that they provide more and real-time patient data, which we believe will enable individualized treatment and continuous care in the area in the longer term. Today, the right tools are not available for patients with an excessively low basal metabolic rate.

Over the past 10 years, Novo Nordisk and other large companies have developed self-measurement devices for diabetes, and these tools have significantly improved the treatment of diabetes patients. Patients are able to have greater control over decisions and actions that affect their health, which should also be the case for patients suffering from the effects of hypothyroidism. It would simply be fantastic if we could make a significant difference for hundreds of millions of hypothyroid patients.”

Earlier this year, HEI Therapeutics was admitted to the BII Venture Lab, which aims to help new start-ups early on. The company is currently focusing on completing the technology and a prototype in order to initiate preclinical trials in hospital settings with key collaborators to build up clinical evidence. Afterwards, the trials have to be repeated with a view to optimizing patient usability and regulatory approvals.

“We’re delighted to be part of Venture Lab, which gives us the framework we need to be able to take our product further from the idea phase. We hope to join Creation House, which is another BII programme, and thereby get our product ready for approval in 2024,” says Winnie Svendsen.

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