15-year-old Canadian student develops EpiPen-like gadget for diabetes patients
The number of people living with diabetes is more than 3 million, and that figure is expected to increase by 40 per cent by 2025, according to Diabetes Canada.
It’s a staggering statistic that represents people of all ages – Toronto resident Shaan Hooey’s younger sister is part of that number.
She has Type 1 diabetes and lives a life that revolves around monitoring her sugar levels, doing routine prick tests and administering glucagon when she needs it.
Hooey told Global News his sister is monitored very closely, and there is a constant fear something could go wrong.
“She has worked very hard to manage her blood sugar all these years. Since she was four, she was doing math to get the numbers right for her carb counts and everything,” Hooey told Global News.
“She has always been on top of it.”
But Hooey says he wanted to help – to make her life and the life of others living with diabetes easier and safer. Hooey said he found it could take up to 10 minutes for a patient to administer glucagon properly, but that’s far too long especially in an emergency situation.
“That’s just too long,” Hooey said.
So Hooey, along with his student partner Sameer Jessa, came up with a product and medical start-up that helps diabetes patients get an immediate shot of glucagon which is critical when blood. sugar levels dip dangerously low, within seconds.
It’s called Gluca Med – based on the EpiPen, it is essentially an EpiPen for diabetes patients. “I am just trying to make it a little bit easier one step at a time for all diabetics because it’s really not easy – the cost of the equipment, the time that it consumes… the fact that every two hours you have to prick your finger still,” Hooey said. “That is very time consuming and that adds up after a while. I am just trying to help impact people like my sister and others in a positive way.”
What is so unique about this story, beyond the product itself, is the fact hat Hooey is only 15 years old, yet he has created something that could save lives.
The way GlucaMed works is simple. All the user has to do is pull off the safety cap like you would do with an EpiPen, and push a button to administer the substance.
The idea is having a huge impact.
Hooey tells Global News Califorinia-based entrepreneur Navid Nathoo, founder of Airpost, and Accenture consultant, Alexis Tremblay have interest in the product.
In Toronto, Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone awarded Hooey and Jessa $5,000 to help them move forward with the product.
The dynamic duo also have the backing of an investor and a strong group comprising a board of directors and lawyers looking to help them patent the product.
“Sameer has been awesome on the legal side of things. He has been really important to getting conversations with lawyers and getting pro bono services, it’s been really awesome. As a 15-year-old it is not easy to get in with lawyers and labs, which are two essential components to all of this and he has been essential in that process and I am really, really grateful to him for that,” Hooey said.
Right now, Hooey and Jessa are working on getting a patent for the product, fine-tuning their business plan and getting support in the labs to have the product tested so it can be ready to go on the market in the near future.
Giving diabetes patients the convenience and safety of being able to maintain their blood sugar is Hooey’s main focus – but his motivation starts at home.
“My source of motivation comes from my sister. She is an amazing kid,” Hooey said.
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