Start-up develops smart watch that administers medicine

  • November 2, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

South Korean start-up Jubilee Biotech has developed a smart watch and medication management platform that uses microneedles to administer exact amounts of medication at set times.

Medicine in the Jubiwatch is contained in a microneedle cartridge, which a patient inserts manually into the watch. The patient can then connect the watch to their medication schedule via a mobile app. Then, at the correct time, the microneedle administers the medicine via transdermal administration.

Jubiwatch has been in R&D for the past two years and there are plans in place for FDA review and commercialisation.

When the doctor asks the question, “Did you take your medicine properly?”, the patient responds based on unclear, incorrect memories, which can lead to misdiagnosis. However, if medicine is administered via Jubiwatch, time and dosage are accurately measured in seconds and micrograms.

According to statistics from the American Pharmacists Association, three out of four patients do not take medicine as prescribed. In North America, 125,000 deaths are directly caused by medication non-adherence, with the estimated cost reaching $300bn per year.

Sung-Kyoung Lee, CEO of Jubilee Biotech, founded the company to solve this problem. Lee majored in molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a doctoral degree in toxicology and molecular pharmacology. Since then, he has worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I believe that the medical market is leaning into a focus on personalised medicine, telemedicine and pain,” said Lee. “I established this company to create a medical platform that addresses these three areas to build a better healthcare system. Human life will become more personalised with people increasingly becoming more interested in improving the quality of life. I predict that this will lead to a healthcare system that has a direct impact on the quality of life, as attempts to minimise pain continue. As important as developing a good medicine is helping patients take it properly. While maintaining awareness of the problem, I came up with the idea of creating a wearable device that uses microneedles to administer quantities on time and convert them into data.”

Jubilee Biotech is preparing for FDA approval simultaneously in Korea and the USA. It has filed relevant patents and will attempt to secure more patents soon.

Jubiwatch can also help patients with physical disabilities to take their medicine more conveniently.

Nowadays, smart watches in the market have diverse medical functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure checks. The dosing function of Jubiwatch is different from these pre-existing functions, in that other smartwatches use sensing technology to provide measurement. The microneedle cartridges used by Jubiwatch are structurally incompatible with smartwatches currently on the market.

Apple and Galaxy Watches do not have the space to insert a cartridge for medication, nor can they implement a mechanism to drive it since their inside spaces are already full of sensors and batteries. On the other hand, Jubiwatch was designed to prioritise loading cartridges as a core function.

The watch’s IT functions include information about the patient’s medication. With the second generation, Jubilee Biotech plans for more diverse sensing and IT functions to be installed.

“Through Jubiwatch, we first plan to provide hormonal drugs and medicines that are particularly efficient when taken in small doses in the form of cartridges,” said Lee. “We will start mainly with hormones and plan to expand to medicines for stroke and Parkinson’s disease, such as levodopa and rheumatism. These drugs are a priority because they are effective when taken on time.”

Some medicines can cause health issues or disturb the balance of the entire body if they are not taken on time. This is the case for estrogen, a female hormone. Doctors do not suggest doses of estrogen for patients who miss correct intake time. The same goes for thyroid hormones. People with palsy (Parkinson’s disease) must take their medication as soon as they wake up in the morning, but they may face difficulties in achieving this task due to physical discomforts or difficulties. In many cases, such as schizophrenia, caregivers are needed to help patients take their medication.

Jubiwatch can solve these problems and increase the efficacy of these medications by allowing patients to take their medicines at accurate times. Through the Jubi app, guardians and doctors can have live feedback regarding the patient’s drug delivery and the medication dosages.

Jubilee Biotech has nearly reached the completion of Jubiwatch for FDA pre-submission in 2022 and plans to establish a US branch next year. Currently, Jubilee Biotech is in discussion with a number of VCs and PEs to expand the company for diverse drugs. Jubilee Biotech’s current goal is to launch a data-based treatment platform with Jubiwatch by the end of 2023 in the USA.