The company has developed a medical device based on research funded by NASA
We all lose bones as we get older; Our bone mass peaks in our 30s and then decreases. In the United States, there are 44 million Americans with osteopenia, equivalent to mild to moderate loss of bone density, while another 10 million have osteoporosis, equivalent to severe loss of bone density.
There really aren’t any great treatments right now for a problem that affects so many people.
First, no action is taken to actually prevent bone loss. Patients aren’t given medication until they already have osteoporosis, and those medications have serious side effects, said Laura Yecies, CEO of Bone Health Technologies (BHT), a developer of a hardware device that uses vibration to improve bone health. The company announced on Monday an oversubscribed financing round of $ 2.5 million.
“It would be like the equivalent of statins that are only prescribed when you are about to have a heart attack. What we need in bone health is the equivalent of a safe blood pressure or statin medication that you can take early action and prevent you from doing so these big problems across the board, “she said.
“For most people with osteopenia, their doctors tell them to exercise and make sure you have enough calcium, but extra calcium won’t help. When they are getting enough already, and many of these patients feel they are on to this Abyss your bones are not terrible, but they get worse and there is nothing to be done until you get into that more advanced state. “
BHT’s solution is called Osteoboost, a two-pound belt that patients can wear during their daily activities. He uses vibrations to keep your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis.
A device based on NASA research
The technology that BHT uses is actually based on NASA research that has proven that vibrations improve astronauts’ bone health by standing on a plate that sends vibrations up through the skeleton.
“Astronauts lose a lot of bones when they’re in space. Bones need strength to stay healthy. When you’re in space, your bones don’t get strength, so in a month astronauts lose the equivalent of a year they spend in space Would lose earth, “explained Yecies.
The problem with the panels used by NASA astronauts was that they are both very expensive and difficult to use because you have to stand on them and do nothing as your knees need to be locked.
Therefore The founders of Bone Health Technologies took up this idea of whole-body vibration and localized it: Not only can the device be worn anywhere, but the vibrations are also applied directly to the sacrum, which is the vertebra at the end of the spine.
“The benefit is not only is it much more comfortable because you can wear it while you walk the dog or do laundry, but the hips in the lumbar spine are where you have the most fractures vibration in the area, who needs it most. So that’s where the idea came about and the basic research, “said Yecies.
A health problem for women
While bone loss affects both sexes, it’s a particularly big problem for women: half of all women over 50 have a fracture due to osteoporosis, usually of the hip, wrist, or spine.
Because of this, the company is specifically investigating the treatment of postmenopausal women with osteopenia and is also filing for FDA approval. The company has already conducted a proof-of-concept study in which 17 women participated. Based on this study, BHT received a $ 2 million grant from the NIH for its ongoing pivotal study.
The current study, which the company will use most of its funding to complete, will include a total of 126 women. This is where the data that will be used to submit FDA approval is collected so that the prescription device can be sold.
“We don’t have any results yet, but we hope that based on the proof-of-concept study, we can reduce bone loss by a few percentage points of density per year, and that would be cumulative. that there is a lot of good data showing that for every 1% improvement in bone density you reduce the risk of fractures by 2%, so my goal is to significantly reduce the risk of fractures if people use this for five or more 10 years “said Yecies.
Upon completion of this study, BHT plans to expand into other areas, including examining the effects of the technology in men as well as in patients who already have osteoporosis.
“As a startup, all of these things require capital, and our access to capital will improve once we first demonstrate their effectiveness.”
Three new board members
In addition to the new funding, BHT’s other big announcement is that three new members have been appointed to the Board of Directors: Karen Drexler, MBA; Nancy Lynch, MD, MBA; and Sam Goldberger, MD, MBA. Drexler is a founding member of Astia Angels and holds board positions at ResMed, Outset Medical, Tivic Health and VIDA Diagnostics.
“Karen is truly a rock star medical device professional. She serves on several boards of directors of public companies, so we are honored. Most board members of public companies do not run private companies,” said Yecies.
“Her experience is very much tied to the prescribed home medical device, so she has experience with CPAP and diabetes. She has very, very direct experience as well as experience with the board and she is someone I have met over the internet for years and who I really respect. “
Goldberger is co-founder and managing partner of Ambit Health Ventures and has over 28 employees Years of surgical experience while lynching is a Board-certified, scholarship-trained orthopedic surgeon and member of the American Academy by orthopedic surgeons. She was chief medical officer and advisor to several companies Medical equipment company.
“Nancy Lin is an orthopedic surgeon, so she’s obviously very knowledgeable about bone health. She works with a number of early-stage companies that conduct clinical studies in bone health. Much of the equipment she consults is surgical, but your knowledge is very, very relevant, “Yecies told me.
“And then Dr. Goldberger, who is a surgeon, is one of our investors, so he brings both the medical perspective and he has a lot of insight into our launch and how we market to doctors and represent the investor’s point of view.”
These three new board members, along with BHT founders Dan Burnett and Michael Jaasma, will join existing members John Osborne, Managing Partner at Good Growth Capital, who was one of the company’s early investors.
The new financing round was sponsored by Good Growth Capital along with Astia Angels, Ambit Health Ventures, the Portfolia Femtech Fund, the IT-Farm, Golden Seeds, the Berkeley Angel Network, the Band of Angels, the Reno Seed Fund and prominent individual angel investors directed. This brings the company’s total to $ 4.5 million, including all grants.
In addition to using the money to complete the current study, the new money will also be used to build the product, especially an app that will help users comply with regulations. That means reminding people to use it, giving them feedback, tracking their usage, and giving them reports so they can share them with their doctor.
“If you search for osteoporosis on the App Store, there isn’t much there that is really interesting when you consider 54 million Americans have a problem with bone density. You can compare this to the thousands of apps available for diabetes or heart health depression So there really is a green field of opportunities to encourage people and help people with their own health, “said Yecies.
“The device is going to be a component, but we want them to have enough calcium and vitamin D and be doing other lifestyle things to help optimize their bone health. We are in a good position to do that . ”
However, she points out that studying bone density is more of a means to an end: the company’s ultimate goal is to reduce fractures, thereby lowering the cost of care and the serious medical problems that come with it for the patient.
“As a country, we spend $ 19 billion on fractures, we just treat them, don’t even count lost income or people who go to nursing homes. 20% of people with a hip fracture don’t survive a year. If they go to a nursing home.” People are there for one of two reasons: Alzheimer’s disease or they have a broken hip. Those who survive hip fractures, a large percentage of them lose their independence, “she said.
So she hopes to have Millions of patients using this technology reduce these risks.
“The first goal is to show this work. I’m very optimistic we haven’t seen the data, but if it works I am determined to make this accessible to millions of people.”