CT-Based Startup Biorasis Wins Big at MassChallenge

Glucowizzard implantable sensor (Photo provided by Jessica McBride)
Glucowizzard implantable sensor (Photo provided by Jessica McBride)

Connecticut-based medical device startup Biorasis recently was awarded the MassChallenge’s top prize at its annual awards ceremony. The company was one of only four “Diamond Winners,” receiving a cash prize of $100,000. It was also one of two teams to receive the Sidecar Award, providing an additional $200,000 in non-dilutive funding.

The technology developed by Biorasis, the GlucowizzardTM, is an ultra-small implantable biosensor for continuous, reliable glucose monitoring. This needle-implantable device wirelessly transmits glucose levels to a watch-like unit for real-time display, which in turn communicates with personal digital accessories like a smartphone. The device measures only 0.5 x 0.5 mm and vastly improves the quality of life for patients with diabetes. It eliminates the need for surgical sensor implantation and extraction, restores active lifestyle, and enables remote care for young people and the elderly. The technology can also function effectively for three to six months without user intervention and saves between 50 and 70 percent in annual health care costs.

Professor Faquire Jain, Institute of Materials Science
Professor Faquire Jain, Institute of Materials Science
Professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, Institute of Materials Science
Professor Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, Institute of Materials Science

“We’re thrilled with our experience at MassChallenge, and are grateful to have received such a clear vote of confidence from the organization about the quality and potential impact of our technology,” say cofounders Faquir Jain and Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, professors in UConn’s Institute of Materials Science.

The world’s biggest startup accelerator, MassChallenge accepts only 128 startups out of more than 2,000 that apply each year to participate in the nonprofit organization’s four-month program. During their time at the accelerator, startups receive educational programing and mentorship to advance their early-stage ventures. Since 2010, startups accelerated by MassChallenge have raised $1.1 billion in funding, generated $520 million in revenue and created 6,500 jobs.

Biorasis plans to build on this momentum.

According to Biorasis’ chief operation officer, Dr. IIze Krist, the next step for Biorasis is to develop the animal data needed to allow for clinical trials and FDA approval.

“This recognition by MassChallenge provides external validation of our product concept and its value to patients,” Krist says.

R&D facilities for Biorasis are currently housed in the UConn Technology Incubation Program in Storrs.

–Jessica McBride


State Grant for UConn TIP Startup

A personalized medicine startup in UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) will receive a $750,000 grant from Connecticut Innovations (CI).

Wa Xian (Sarah Crisp of LymeGreen.com for UConn Health)
Wa Xian (Sarah Crisp of LymeGreen.com for UConn Health)
Frank McKeon (Sarah Crisp of LymeGreen.com for UConn Health)
Frank McKeon. (Sarah Crisp of LymeGreen.com for UConn Health)

MultiClonal Therapeutics Inc. (MCT) was founded by Frank McKeon and Wa Xian, who formerly held joint faculty positions at UConn Health and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. The award, from CI’s Regenerative Medicine Research Fund, will go toward MCT’s efforts to develop personalized therapies for chronic lung diseases.

“The TIP location allows our team to continue its important scientific work in Connecticut, and to collaborate with leading physicians and researchers as we apply our learning and technology to create new personalized therapies,” Xian says. “MCT’s UConn Health location [at the Cell and Genome Sciences Building] will bolster its success by providing resources to support both our business and R&D needs.”

Xian and McKeon will work with Dr. Mark Metersky, pulmonologist who directs the UConn Center for Bronchiectasis Care, and immunology researcher Laura Haynes in the UConn Center on Aging to translate their technology for therapeutic uses.

“We are pleased to support the exciting work of the MCT team,” says Margaret Cartiera, Director of BioInnovation Connecticut at CI. “This was a highly competitive process and our peer reviewers and the advisory committee agreed that this project demonstrated the characteristics of clinical promise and innovation that we look for in an applicant. We look forward to hearing more about MCT’s developments in the future.”

An article recently published in the journal Nature describes technology that for the first time captures the stem cells of medically important tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, liver and kidney, opening the possibility for their use in regenerative medicine for chronic diseases. UConn Health faculty members who contributed to the research include Dr. Tom Devers, gastroenterologist and site director for the UConn School of Medicine’s Gastroenterology-Hepatology Fellowship Program, and Dr. Jeffrey Hyams, UConn School of Medicine professor of pediatrics.

Nature published an article from the same group, on a potential lung regeneration mechanism, last November.

The Cell and Genome Sciences Building in winter, 400 Farmington Ave., is home to UConn's Technlogy Incubation Program,. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Photo)
The Cell and Genome Sciences Building, 400 Farmington Ave., is home to UConn’s Technlogy Incubation Program,. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Photo)

“In the few years since McKeon and Xian arrived in Connecticut, they have formed many deep collaborations with UConn faculty and are creating novel health care solutions in critical areas of need that will be developed and applied here in Connecticut,” says UConn Vice President for Research Jeff Seemann. “We praise them for both their leading-edge technology as well as their entrepreneurial interests. This is exactly what was anticipated when the Bioscience Connecticut initiative was enacted by Governor Malloy and the state legislature.”

Quotations and other information are from a news release from Fierce Medical Devices.