Alphabet’s life sciences company Verily is making an even bigger bet on diabetes.
It’s teaming up with Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company it’s previously partnered with in the past, to spin out a new joint venture, which will be called Onduo.
The company, which will be based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is tasked with finding ways to help people living with diabetes to help them better live with and treat the disease. It will draw from Sanofi’s experience making drugs to treat diabetes and Verily’s experience in analytics, software, and miniaturized devices. The new company is the result of Verily’s past partnership with Sanofi.
Diabetes is a condition in which people have a hard time processing blood sugar. To start, Onduo will be focused on type 2 diabetes. In total, diabetes affects 371 million people worldwide, a number that’s expected to increase to 552 million by 2030.
But what Onduo settles on making to help this community is still up in the air, on purpose, Onduo’s CEO Dr. Josh Riff told Business Insider.
“That’s the beauty of it. … We’re not jumping to solutions because we’re in a rush to get to market,” Riff said. “We’re taking a thoughtful approach to finding lasting solutions.”
That means in the end, they could end up creating a service, or building a piece of software, or some other combination of technology and medicine.
“As we start to identify those, the thing that’s really nice is we’ll be able able in parallel to start creating those tools,” Dr. Jessica Mega, chief medical officer at Verily told Business Insider.
Before heading Onduo, Riff most recently worked for Optum, UnitedHealth Group’s health services group, where he worked in prevention and well-being. Earlier on in his career an emergency room doctor, he saw firsthand what happens when diabetes gets out of control. Doing damage control, he said, is how he started to change his career to focus more on prevention so he could help people keep their conditions in check.
Verily has its hands in a lot of projects. It has been developing glucose-monitoring contact lenses, and it makes silverware that makes it easier for people with hand tremors to eat. It’s also partnered with some of the biggest names in pharma in everything from diabetes care to a surgical robot spin-out company as well as a bioelectronics company that that will develop ways to use electric signals to treat chronic illnesses.
The plan with spinning out Onduo was to have an independent entity to start testing out the diabetes management solutions the company has in store.
Right off the bat, Onduo will be partnering with two healthcare networks, Sutter Health and Allegheny Health Network, so that health care providers can start testing out the diabetes management platform Onduo creates.