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1 December, 2020 - 12:33 By Tony Quested

Startup backed to achieve diabetes reversal

Brainpower from Cambridge and Stanford universities and Harvard Medical School is behind Habitual – the UK's first fully digital diabetes prevention and reversal programme.

The initiative has earned £325,000 funding led by Europe-wide investor Seedcamp – taking its total to date to £575,000 – to support its public launch in 2021.

Founded by Dr Ian Braithwaite and Napala Pratini in September 2019, Habitual is a three-part programme developed by specialists from Harvard Medical School, The University of Cambridge in the UK and Stanford University in the US. It focuses on total diet replacement, habit-change and ongoing support to achieve disease reversal and long term weight management. 

Habitual's entirely digital programme aims to revolutionise the way we manage type 2 diabetes – aiming to reverse the condition for millions. 

The enterprise was founded in September 2019 after Dr Braithwaite and Napala Pratini met delivering diabetes reversal programmes for the NHS. They realised the potential to completely transform how we think about diabetes and other related diseases. 

Seedcamp was backed in the round by MMC Ventures, one of London’s top series A funds. This followed investment of £250,000 from various angel backers including Roger Hassan, the COO at Tier Mobility and Stephen Bourke, co-founder of Echo Pharmacy which was acquired by McKesson in 2019.

With five million people expected to be diagnosed with diabetes in the UK by 2025 and the NHS spending £315 every second on type 2 diabetes, Habitual has literally hit a sweet spot in the healthcare segment. 

Research has shown that type 2 diabetes is reversible in the majority of patients but this fact has largely been overlooked, with healthcare systems hooked on more traditional pharmaceutical interventions such as pills and injections. 

Habitual wants to radically change this approach by combining digital therapeutics with a nutritionally-complete food product – an unprecedented combination of two clinically-validated tools that holds the potential to prevent and reverse lifestyle disease across the globe. 

Dr Braithwaite said: “While working as a doctor I saw firsthand the devastating complications of type 2 diabetes – from strokes to heart attacks to blindness. For the majority of patients, pills are not solving the problem. 

“We now have strong clinical evidence that remission can be the goal for most patients. Sadly, with the NHS at a breaking point, it is not in a place to deliver intensive remission programs to the 4.2 million type 2 diabetics in the UK. 

“We started Habitual, the first solely digital diabetes remission program, to scale this research to anyone who needs it, no matter where or who they are. 

“We are already seeing astounding results, with all patients stopping or reducing their medications and on their way towards living diabetes-free. This fundraise, from two of London’s top early stage funds, is about more than growth capital; it validates strong investor conviction around moving healthcare systems towards a completely new paradigm for diabetes treatment.”

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