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Novo Nordisk Partners with Beta Bionics and Invests $5 Million

By Lynn Kennedy, Brian Levine, and Adam Brown

Major win to complement Lilly’s partnership with Dr. Ed Damiano and the Bionic Pancreas team; insulin-only pivotal trial in late 2017/early 2018

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Beta Bionics shared exclusive breaking news with diaTribe today that it has received an impressive $5 million investment from insulin maker Novo Nordisk in its newest strategic partnership. This very meaningful development will help the Boston-based “public benefit corporation” advance its fully integrated iLet Bionic Pancreas device that automates delivery of insulin and insulin and glucagon (via Dexcom CGM and a smart algorithm).

With this $5 million commitment, Novo Nordisk matches the investment made about a year ago by Lilly, another prominent insulin maker. Partnering with both leading insulin makers is a first in diabetes technology, and it is great to see that the iLet will now be compatible with both Lilly’s Humalog and Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog insulins – giving people with diabetes more options to choose from.

Notably, a leadership member from each partner – Lilly’s Deirdre Ibsen and Novo Nordisk’s Dr. Martin Lange – will now sit on Beta Bionics’ Board of Directors. Having both insulin companies on board in such a meaningful way is a remarkable and unprecedented win for a life sciences company. It is great to see competitors teaming up to address diabetes together and is very in the spirit of Beta Bionics and its unique essence as a “public benefit corporation.”

What’s the latest timing? The first insulin-only version of the iLet Bionic Pancreas could be available in the US as early as the end of 2018, though the exact launch will depend on upcoming trials and the FDA process.

The first trial, testing the insulin-only version of the iLet Bionic Pancreas over six months, is expected to begin around late 2017 or early 2018, a slight delay from the last estimate that placed the trial’s start in the “second half of 2017.” This trial will be followed in mid-2018 with a study of the fully bihormonal iLet device, using both insulin to lower blood glucose and glucagon to raise it when needed. The timing for this trial has also been delayed very slightly from the previous estimate of the “first half of 2018.”

CEO Dr. Ed Damiano told diaTribe that he hopes for a four to five month FDA review of the insulin-only iLet Bionic Pancreas, pending positive trial results. For comparison, the FDA took three months to review and approve Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G, so this seems very doable if all goes well. The FDA process for the bihormonal device is still being discussed, since it will require a longer test for a new pumpable glucagon made by Zealand Pharma.

We are glad to see many companies moving forward to automate insulin delivery! You can read the full list and details on all the systems in our year-in-review here.

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[Photo Credit: Beta Bionics]

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