Oviva raises $21m for digital tool to help reverse diabetes

Swiss digital therapy specialist Oviva has raised $21 million in second-round financing to help expand the use of smartphone-based tools designed to help people with diabetes manage their condition.

The fundraising – led by venture capital group MTIP – takes the total raised by Oviva to $34 million and according to the company will help it develop the platform as well as “expand in Europe to serve the millions of patients not accessing treatment today.”

Oviva’s digital therapy combines one-to-one coaching with a diabetes specialist dietician over the telephone or via a smartphone app that also gives advice on lifestyle and dietary changes and provides practical help like meal plans, as well as tracking a patient’s progress over time.

The company says the tool can stop the progression of and potentially even help people reverse type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related conditions.

“Behaviour change is the safest and most cost-effective way of preventing and managing diet related health conditions including type 2 diabetes,”says Lucy Jones, Oviva’s clinical director.

“Our technology empowers patients to take a leading role in managing their health, and improves compliance and outcomes.”

There’s evidence that careful control of food intake – ideally coupled with more exercise – can help reverse diabetes in some cases. Just this week UK diabetes researcher Prof Roy Taylor of Newcastle University revealed that a restricted calorie programme he has devised will be piloted by the NHS in England and Scotland.

That programme will involve people switching to a liquid diet based on meal replacement shakes and soups over a two- to three-month period, reducing calorie intake to around 800 per day. The ultimate aim is to reduce weight by around 15 kg.

That is usually sufficient to drive diabetes into remission, according to Prof Taylor. It is anticipated that if the pilot is successful and the programme is rolled out more widely, the NHS will fund the meal replacement products.

Oviva is seeking to tap into that type of research with its platform, saying “technology-supported treatment has consistently demonstrated higher patient uptake, retention and outcomes at lower costs compared to face-to-face therapy.”

The company says it has treated around 90,000 patients across Europe – including in the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland – as well as in the United Arab Emirates using the app, which has been approved for use by NHS Digital.

Last year, NHS England said it would offer digital prevention support to thousands of patients at risk of type 2 diabetes to drive take-up into its flagship Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP).

Health secretary Matt Hancock has made increased use of digital services a priority under his long-term plan for the NHS.

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