Whoever might say UNC and NCSU can’t work together is quite wrong.

Zenomics, a company built around technology developed by the UNC-NCSU Joint Biomedical Engineering Program, has raised $5.8 million in capital.

Zenomics is developing a microneedle transdermal patch technology for diabetes, which is able to sense blood glucose levels and respond with appropriate concentrations of insulin.

The firm believes its painless diabetes testing and insulin injections for the nearly 400 million people with diabetes worldwide.

Zenomics was co-founded by Zhen Gu, PhD, a scientist in the UNC-NC State Joint Biomedical Engineering Program.

The capital raised came from MicroPort Scientific Corporation, a biomedical device company that promotes the translation of Gu’s patented smart insulin technology.

The microneedles feature microscopic storage units for insulin and glucose-sensing components. When blood sugar levels get too high, the microneedles automatically release insulin, combining the testing with the insulin injection in a a pain-free and perfectly timed manner that requires little to no effort by the person wearing the device.

“If this translates successfully, this technology will enhance the health of patients with diabetes and improve their lives,” Gu said. “The technology is painless and it also lessens human error, so that you receive a more accurate blood-sugar controlling.”

Zenomics plans to use the funds to recruit employees for its labs. Additional testing is planned on large animal models.

“This news is exciting for our universities, the state of North Carolina, and the nearly 400 million people affected by diabetes worldwide,” said Dr. John Buse, the Verne S. Caviness Distinguished Professor of Medicine, director of the UNC Diabetes Care Center, and director of the NC TraCS Institute. “These tiny devices have the potential not only to improve health, but enhance quality of life.

“For patients with diabetes, it is a 24-7 disease where attention to diet, activity, blood sugar levels, and stress is required to adequately treat the disease. If successful, the Zenomics’ approach would reduce that effort to applying the application of a patch.”

The company’s chief executive officer is Xuejie Wang.

“The patch is covered with more than one hundred micro-scale needles,” Dr. Zhen Gu told Diabetes Daily in an interview. “Each needle contains the glucose-responsive formulations loaded with insulin. They can respond to high glucose level and release insulin correspondingly.”

For more stories about research involving Zhen at UNC and NCSU, check the links included with this post.