The fight to prevent diabetes
Sana Alajmovic got tired of the reactive way of looking at diabetes. She founded Sigrid Therapeutics, which develops SiPore15®, a silicon-based oral solution for blood sugar reduction. The company has now reached an agreement for large-scale production.
AS THE WORLD becomes wealthier, our lifestyle-related diseases are also soaring and diabetes is now one of the fastest-growing public diseases. According to IDF Atlas from 2019, more than 463 million people – 1 in 11 adults between the ages of 20-79 – live with the disease. The good news is that diabetes can be avoided through relatively simple behavioral and lifestyle changes, while prediabetes markers are becoming increasingly accessible and measurable.
Sigrid Therapeutics’ mission is to offer the market an over-the-counter drug called SiPore15®, which can also be prescribed to patients before the disease has developed. Sana Alajmovic visited Heja Framtiden podcast in November 2019. Just over a year later, Sigrid Therapeutics reached a production agreement.
– We have scaled up our production together with one of the world’s largest silicon suppliers, which has been difficult during the global shutdown. Also, this type of product is not scaled linearly – when we have done tests and analyses at the molecular level, it does not mean that it works in the same way in the production of thousands of tons in special silicon furnaces. Therefore, this process has taken an extra long time.
80 million in funding
To date, Sigrid Therapeutics has raised SEK 80 million through Almi Invest, private business angels, and a San Francisco-based venture capital company. But Sana Alajmovic believes that there is a lack of funding in the Swedish ecosystem.
– It is good that there is a lot of research, strong universities, and competent consultants. Uppsala University also has one of the world’s best incubators for startups. But we need more investors – many companies go to the stock market far too early because they cannot find funding.
She is looking for venture capital funds that are brave enough to enter a market with high risk and long lead times, but where the upside can be large in the long run.
– It’s different in the tech world, where you can scale up to a valuation of a billion SEK in just a couple of years. In life science, there are long development cycles and we cannot suddenly change our business model in the same way as a tech company. In 2021, the last capital round will be put in place before Sigrid Therapeutics can take the next step in development.
– The phase we now are entering will be the biggest milestone for the company so far, she says.
Prevention is the way forward
Sana Alajmovic welcomes the digital development that can contribute to a more preventive health care system, but points out that the level of awareness must be raised throughout society.
– We need a broader approach to diabetes, and with digital aids, patients today can get help and support with everything that affects their health in some way. We also know that just changing your diet is not enough, as many people fail to do so in a sustainable way. Sigrid Therapeutics is thus aiming to be included as a natural complement in primary care. When I go to my healthcare provider and it appears that I am at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the doctor can prescribe a change in diet and exercise, and supplement with Sigrid’s product SiPore15®, consisting of gentle silicon.
– We need to push the information about the disease forward and pick up the common warning signs, such as overweight, sedentary, fatigue, thirst, and frequent urination. There is a need for greater awareness of diabetes throughout society. The campaigns against smoking have led to an important change in behavior, and I believe that we should treat diabetes in the same way.