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Nutromics Smart Patch – The Next Evolution of the Continuous Glucose Monitor
Episode

Peter Vranes, Co-founder of Nutromics

Nutromics Smart Patch – The Next Evolution of the Continuous Glucose Monitor

In this episode, we are privileged to feature Peter Vranes, the co-founder of Nutromics, an Australian MedTech company revolutionizing healthcare through continuous real-time molecular monitoring. Peter shares how his company’s smart patch biosensor can measure molecular targets continuously and in real-time. He explains how molecular targeting is done and how it can improve patient outcomes. He talks of the core application of the platform and how it can change the trajectory of the Medtech industry. This innovative technology can impact and save thousands of lives, so it’s exciting to hear Peter discuss it. Learn more about this smart patch biosensor in our interview, so please tune in and enjoy!

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Nutromics Smart Patch – The Next Evolution of the Continuous Glucose Monitor

About Peter Vranes

Peter Vranes is a Chemical Engineer and serial entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Nutromics. The company’s innovative Smart Patch biosensor platform will solve some of the biggest healthcare challenges we face today in the fields of chronic disease prevention, chronic disease management, acute diseases, and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.

Prior to Nutromics, Peter founded Biocore Technologies and lead the team with the development and commercialization of several natural cosmeceutical skincare brands that were distributed in 1,500 retailers throughout Australia. The company was successfully sold in 2013.

Nutromics Smart Patch – The Next Evolution of the Continuous Glucose Monitor with Peter Vranes, Co-founder of Nutromics: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Nutromics Smart Patch – The Next Evolution of the Continuous Glucose Monitor with Peter Vranes, Co-founder of Nutromics: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Hey everyone, Saul Marquez is back and welcome to the Outcomes Rocket. Today, I have the privilege of hosting the outstanding Peter Vranes. He is a chemical engineer and serial entrepreneur. Peter is the co-founder of Nutromics, an Australian MedTech company revolutionizing health care through continuous, real-time molecular monitoring. The company’s innovative Smart Patch biosensor platform will solve some of the biggest health care challenges we face today in the fields of chronic disease prevention, chronic disease management, acute diseases, and therapeutic drug monitoring. Prior to Nutromics, Peter founded Biocore Technologies and led the team with the development and commercialization of several natural cosmeceuticals skincare brands that were distributed in fifteen hundred retailers throughout Australia. The company was successfully sold in 2013, and today we’re going to hone in on the work that Peter and his team are doing at Nutromics. And I’m really, really privileged to have him here on the podcast. Peter, thanks for joining us.

Peter Vranes:
Great to be here, Saul. Thank you very much for having me.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. You’re jumping on all the way from Australia and it’s early over there right now.

Peter Vranes:
Yeah, it’s just a bit of a bit past 7:00 AM. And I’m not exactly a morning person, so. But I’m going to try my best to a second coffee. I’m firing up the engine and it’s going slow, but let’s see how we go.

Saul Marquez:
I love it, man. Well, we’re privileged that you are starting your day off with us Outcomes Rocket Nation. So we are thrilled to have a conversation with you to learn more about what you’re up to. Before we dive into Nutromics in the work you’re doing there, Peter, tell us about you. Tell us why health care is driving your engine. Why do you do what you do?

Peter Vranes:
It’s a really good question, Saul. Probably two reasons. Number one is that we’re working on problems that cost lives today because certain technologies are unavailable people die and a lot of people die. So what we do is we’re developing a patch that can it’s a platform technology and it can measure molecular targets continuously and in real-time.

Peter Vranes:
And people are probably familiar with continuous glucose monitors for Type one diabetics. So if you imagine not being able to essentially measure any molecular target, you can start to imagine some of the problems that we can solve. So examples being therapeutic drug monitoring. So right now that’s done. I think anyone involved in that industry would sort of acknowledge it’s a really challenging thing for conditions to be able to dose certain drugs where everyone metabolizes that drug differently. And they’ve got to get them in a very narrow therapeutic window. They overdose, then they can do damage. Things like acute kidney injuries can occur. Sepsis is another one. 270,000 Americans die every year from sepsis. That’s one in three deaths in hospitals. It’s really hard to diagnose sepsis. It’s like a lot of other conditions. Being able to measure the molecular target to indicate that it is sepsis early is really important. With sepsis, a delay of one hour and treatment increases the risk of death by eight percent. So this is fast-moving. So we’re dealing with problems like that. That really drives us as a company because we’ve got a technology that can do it. We almost feel a moral imperative to get into the market as quickly as possible. And I suppose the second part, what drives me nuts is the team because we’ve been able to attract people that like-minded that from a cultural point of view, we all really are behind that mission, our mission as a company. And that’s to a world of zero preventable deaths due to a lack of time molecular patient data. That’s our mission. That’s what drives us. And that’s what gets us up early every morning and work right and do the things we need to do. Put massive energy into what we do is basically we’re doing this to save people’s lives and we can’t think of a better use of our time.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think it’s awesome. And you talk about preventable deaths, Peter. There are so many. There’s been a lot of analogies, of jumbo jet crashing every single day, yet it doesn’t receive the attention that it needs. There are opportunities to do better. And so this patient data is key right. And we’re getting into this stage in our industry where remote patient monitoring is a thing. There’s different pathways to get it done. But what you’re talking about here is getting down to the smallest level and actually monitoring that, even for somebody with sepsis, which is critical. So talk to us a little bit about what you guys do and how exactly you’re adding value to the ecosystem. Is this thing available yet or you’re in the process of launching it?

Peter Vranes:
We’re developing the technology. So we’ve come a long way with licensing technology from a couple of American universities. So our technology, a combination of, in fact, two technologies coming together. So one’s a marker and needle. Right. And what that does, it’s tiny little needles, less than one millimeter, and it gives us access to a fluid under your skin called interstitial fluid. So it’s the same fluid used for continuous glucose monitors and analyzes interest in ISF correlate really well with blood. So if you’re going to measure something continuously, that’s a really good fluid. It’s hard to measure to have a patch measure blood continuously and have it in outpatient settings where people can apply it. ISF, you can absolutely do that and — have proven that. And then on the end of that, we put a sensor. This is really the jewel in the crown for us. It’s called an aptimer sensor, and it’s just a little coating that is basically is the platform in our technology. It’s what makes it generalizable to any target. And so this is like a little patch similar to what we in Australia would call a 50 cent piece. But whatever the equivalent is in the US, but a little coin-sized patch that you apply. You don’t need a doctor to apply. You can apply yourself. And we’ve been able to demonstrate that that technology works with 12 different sensors. And so the beauty of what we can do is that we can do drugs, we can do metabolites, we can do proteins, we can do hormones.

Peter Vranes:
We can do a broad class of technologies with basically what we have. Whereas continuous glucose monitors are limited to metabolites, so things that are already in the body like glucose and lactate. We’re not limited to those. We can do a whole range of different targets. And what that gives us is a blue ocean opportunity to go in to solve problems in areas that other technologies just can’t solve. So you’re not going to have to glucose systems that they’re what’s called enzymatic sensing and they’re never going to be able to measure drugs, for example. So vancomycin that’s our first market. That’s a very commonly prescribed drug. It’s indicated a therapeutic drug monitoring. Really the only way to do that is without using the other technologies that are in the market, just don’t have the capabilities to measure a drug like we can. So it’s in development. We’ve demonstrated numerous times on an animal model. We’ve got human data without glucose sensors and now we’re just integrating the aptimer and microneedle for first in human in a few months time. So it’s going to be a really exciting time for us to be at to show that it’s the ultimate proof point. We have come a long way, but that’s the ultimate test. And that’s where we’re sort of all eyes for us is right on that now. And we should have that data by the middle of this year.

Saul Marquez:
That’s fascinating. So ISF, really just a unique way to pick up on some of these biomarkers, turn these indicative biomarkers. I guess that that can help us understand directionally where a disease is heading, get ahead of it before it becomes a huge issue. But it sounds like the challenge that you guys are bridging is, is how to get the ISF right. because I guess why hasn’t it been used before if it’s so effective?

Peter Vranes:
Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, the Holy Grail in biosensing for decades has been a platform technology that can measure any molecular target. This is not a new concept. This has been around for a long time and the industry is full of engineers and chemists like me. I’m a chemical engineer and we get trained in a certain way of thinking. No one has been able to crack this Holy Grail, so to speak, because if you imagine if you can measure any molecular target continuously and in real time, we’ve all seen what CGMs can do for the treatment of diabetes. Imagine that technology in a whole range of verticals. That’s a big deal, like it’s a game-changer for patient outcomes. So no one’s been able to crack this. And the inventor of the technology, it’s an interesting story. He’s Professor Kevin Plaxico from UCSB, one of the world’s leading biosensor researchers, and he’s a biological physicist. So he looks it through the lens of a biologist, not a chemist or an engineer and biologist. He gets trained a very different way. And so he has this fundamentally different question that no one had asked, and that was in our bodies right now we are doing continuous monitoring of molecules all the time. This is a solved problem. The body has already solved this problem. And so what it does, it is through confirmational change, the change in the structure of a protein, that’s how our body does it now, and that was his light bulb moment. To say, well, if that’s how the body does it, this is a solved problem, why don’t we learn from that and try and do something similar?

Peter Vranes:
And so there’s a whole industry around this called biomimetics, learning from nature. And so instead of using proteins, what he did was he used aptness because they’re easier to develop the synthetic DNA, but it does effectively exactly the same thing as what proteins do in their body. So our senses, our aptimer sensor, change shape in the eyes of the target and only the target.

Peter Vranes:
And that basically was the breakthrough that allowed him to develop this platform technology that can measure anything. But that was only the first step because there are lots of technologies on the lab bench, they all work perfectly. Everyone claims that their technology works because it’s so controlled. And then you put it on the body, and the body is noisy and is bi- and has all these issues going on and the vast majority fail. That’s where they break down. So he has the challenge to say, if I can do this 12 times with different targets, then that is a proof point that this is generalizable, that this is a platform technology. And it was only actually a few weeks ago that he and his team did the 12th center.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, yeah?

Peter Vranes:
Proven on body, on body, in blood, in a complex matrix. And so it is kind of interesting story how nature solved this problem. Yet we were looking in a whole different direction and never ask. The simple question is it almost seems obvious now. How does the body do it now? But that was that the question that changed the trajectory of largely this industry.

Peter Vranes:
And now Kevin is literally landed in Australia yesterday. He’s working with us now. And a couple of members of his team are coming over. And we’re really excited to have him on board with our team. And we’re really progressing with the technology much, much faster when the whole team. It was a bit of a challenge with COVID getting him here. Yeah, it’s literally yesterday touched down in Sydney, so in quarantine for a couple of weeks. But Australia at the moment.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. Well, super interesting. And just thinking through this, it seems like the future, you know, and you make the example of the continuous glucose monitor because it’s something that we all know. And obviously, it makes treatment and medication of diabetes that much more effective. But what if we could do it with so many other things and so on? A promise is huge. So talk to us about your vision and maybe some of the core applications of this technology that you envision, Peter could be what kicks you guys off?

Peter Vranes:
Yes, we sort of say one of the great things about our take is it’s a platform and you can do anything. One of the drawbacks to that, it’s a platform and you can do anything. Right. So it’s a pro and con. It’s a con because, boy, you could spend your life picking up applications and never actually doing anything right. So we love to think up these applications. And we work with lots of clinicians all around the world, but we kind of laser-focused on our first one, and that is therapeutic drug monitoring. So it’s done really, really poorly at the moment. I think everyone would agree about that. If you went into the hospital, touchwood. But if you did and you got dosed with a drug that required therapeutic drug monitoring, what they do is they take blood draws and it gets processed and they’re trying to look at the content, doing what your next concentration should be because they’re trying to get you into this window, this narrow therapeutic window. And they’re always looking in the rearview mirror because they take a blood draw, but they don’t get the result for 12 hours or twenty-four hours. And so that was where you were at twelve to twenty-four hours ago. And they’ve got to take within this window of time.

Peter Vranes:
And if they don’t, then it’s wrong data, and 80 percent of the time that they don’t take it within the two-hour window. So they get limited data. The data they typically get is wrong. And the upshot of all that is less than half of the doses of these drugs are in therapeutic time and some of them are actually in a toxic zone. We’ve all heard about drugs that kill people. And this is one of those examples where you’re going with one problem. You come out with another problem. And it can happen because and that’s the big fear for clinicians. And so they often try and reasonably by the conservative that they don’t want to give you a knee injury. So they lowball you, for starters. That takes a long time for them to get into the surgery. So all these problems. So so that’s our first market is therapeutic drug monitoring. But then we want to move into IKI measurement of kidney injury because we can measure cretinism and then we’ve got chronic kidney disease. I mean, we talk a lot about diabetes, and we should, because it’s a big problem, it’s 420 million people with that condition. There are eight hundred million people with chronic kidney disease and almost double. It’s a huge, huge problem. It’s a silent killer.

Peter Vranes:
So and nephrologists, the experts in this space, call it a data-free zone largely. So the way that they treat patients is often one-size-fits-all. So we can change that paradigm. super excited about that. So they’re kind of a usual market. But the big picture vision here, Saul is the promise of precision medicine we’ve been with. These are terms that we’ve heard about for a long time. But what does it actually mean? And I think we’ve got a glimpse into the future with a closed-loop system with the artificial pancreas. Yeah. So the ability to monitor glucose has enabled the artificial pancreas to become a reality. So just for people that don’t know what that is, it’s basically a closed loop where you monitor glucose, a machine monitors glucose, and doses insulin. And so you don’t require a patient to make those calculations. So they’re a closed-loop system, as we could have all throughout the health care system. Drug monitoring is a classic example. Its a whole range of them. But for all of them, the first thing you need to do is monitor biomarkers, molecular biomarkers continuously in real-time. You have to be able to do that. And so we do that first. And so our vision of the future are all of these closed-loop systems in many, many different areas of health care that are now enabled because we can measure something continuously in real-time, just like the artificial pancreas required continuous monitoring of glucose. So that’s kind of the big picture where we think this is going to go. And that’s an exciting future because you get better patient outcomes when you can do that.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s super interesting. You know, Peter, I admire the work that you have taken on here because it’s one of those projects that it’s not easy and it’s a long-haul project that also has a lot of promise. So what is it that inspires you to do this? Because you could choose something that’s not going to have as long of a runway. You could get to market quicker. You could make some moves quickly. But why did you decide to do this?

Peter Vranes:
That’s a good question. I spent most of my career I’m a chemical engineer but spent most of my career in skincare. And you look back on your career and things evolve and they happen, and if I think back it up, I love what I did with the skincare brands, but if I’m on my deathbed and I look back, I didn’t know that I would be satisfied with that. That was interesting. We had a great team. We did some really interesting things. But when I sold the last company, I actually started a new skincare brand because that’s what I knew. And in the middle of that, you have these watershed moments in your life where you say, well, I can keep going down this path and I know it and I think I can do it well. But the way I kind of look at these things is and it may be a little cliche right, but when I’m on my deathbed, is that the decision I would have been happy with or not? It is a book I highly recommend. It’s called The Five Regrets of the Dying. And it was a nurse, a palliative care nurse, that nurse hundreds of people that were imminently dying and that had a series of regrets that they had. It was quite common. And it was just one of those books that just made you really reflect on your life. And so I kind of reflected on what I would want.

Peter Vranes:
And so it was at that moment that I thought, I want more. I think we can do more. I think having a greater impact in this world and challenge myself. I did that for 10 years a bit more, and it was a great experience. But what we do now, is what I really viscerally am passionate about. This is one of those problems that when you see it, you can’t walk by these problems. People, husbands, wives, my kids, this affects everyone. Like at some point in time we will be impacted by these. And one of the things that really need to go through my co-founder as well. It really drove him. Hitesh. We originally were looking at the prevention of diabetes because it’s such a big problem and there’s no very little focus on it. Right. And we will speak to endocrinologists and we would say so when someone has pre-diabetes, what do you do? And basically what they do for the most part, and it’s not their fault, it’s just that they don’t have the tools, is it, that they say we wait for them to get the disease and then we treat it? That’s what we do. And it’s sort of like and when we have those conversations, it’s sort of like I know that doesn’t sound right, but that’s the system, right? That’s shocking. You know, we’re in 2021.

Peter Vranes:
This is it. This is what we’ve got. And people suffer. Everyone knows someone who’s got diabetes. It’s not a pretty thing. If we could have an impact Right. whether it is the prevention of lifestyle-related chronic diseases because that technology can do that. Whether it’s helping clinicians those drugs safely so that people don’t die and get AKI, to me, if I gave that and our team, we gave that a real crack, we did our best and we had an impact in those areas, I think we could all look back and say we did something worthwhile. That’s a good use of our time. So that’s kind of a long-winded answer to your question.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, no.

Peter Vranes:
These is the real reasons that things happen. Right? It’s not always straight and it’s messy and it’s and it’s all those things. But it’s real. And look at it. I never look back and say I have a regret about moving away from it every day. The whole team, we all think alike when it comes to this. We want to get this in the market as soon as possible. We’ve got to make sure we’re not burning ourselves out. That’s probably the bigger issue because people are just working very, very hard to get this to the market. But yeah, so that’s kind of what drives us.

Saul Marquez:
Thanks for sharing that. I asked that question because it is not an easy road. And it’s funny when you are kind of telling me your reason for it and the five regrets of the dying. And yeah, you got to do those things that are going to help you feel like you’ve done your part to make this place better. And actually, I was watching The Lorax, Dr. Seuss, The Lorax, do you know that movie. Yeah. I was watching that with my son. And at the beginning, there’s this quote. And for those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s basically this guy chops down a bunch of trees and basically, there are no more trees left. There’s a seed left, but and it’s a wreck. It’s a train wreck of a city, of life, of earth. And the quote says, Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. And you think about what Peter just said. You know, you go to an office with prediabetes and the best solution is for them to wait for you to get diabetes.

Peter Vranes:
It’s almost, when they say they’re almost embarrassed to say, I mean, how can you say that without kind of being. Having a little moment of going, oh, boy, that I know that doesn’t sound good, right. Or it’s, you know, exercise more and eat less, which is not a light bulb moments before. All right. So it is what it is. And I think we just want to solve this when we have we think we have a chance. We think we have a technology that’s proven enough that we can actually move the needle for lots and lots of people. That’s an opportunity that we are just like a dog with a bone going after. So, yeah, and it’s funny with these, like you’ve talked about kids, a kids show. I’ve got three kids as well. It’s funny when you pick up these things, it can be anywhere, but that’s life. There are certain times where when you least expect it, some little light bulb goes on and it changes your life.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, man, now this is great. And so obviously projects like these, challenges like these, they require a lot of people and obviously a lot of money. So I imagine you’re probably raising some money and there are people that are interested. You know, there are people that are listening to this. We’ve got a lot of venture capital listeners. What’s your message to them and what’s the opportunity? What does that look like?

Peter Vranes:
Yeah, I suppose, you know, startups are always in capital-raising mode. Whether the brand is open or closed, you’re always sort of having the discussions and where we’re in the middle of a round actually at the moment. So we’re closing a bridging round right now, which literally is this week. So that’s great. And we’ve got a parallel price round where we call it that we’re literally in the middle of. So, you know, I suppose the call out that is if you’re a VC that thinks that they can help us, that really resonates with what we’re doing and that’s really important to us. We really are looking for investors that resonate with what we’re doing. They believe in what we’re doing, you know, reach out to us. We want to talk to you. Our investors are our partners. And, you know, it’s cliche, but we’re not we’re not an island. We’re never going to do this by ourself. We want really good partners. And we’ve got some really great partners that we work with. We’re very collaborative as a company. That’s how we’ve kind of progressed quite quickly. So, yeah, we’re back to we’re going to be opening up an office in the US this year. So that’s going to be one of the milestones.

Peter Vranes:
US is going to be our first market. We’re doing our development work in Australia. And yeah, and not only just investors but also with this tech. We don’t want to constrain where we go within the four walls of our organization. So we have basically what we call the open innovation model. But we partner with universities and researchers to go and take this technology into areas that we’re never going to take it ourselves because we can’t do we too constrained. So if you’re sort of listening to this and you think, wow, if you could measure X, Y and Z continuously in real-time, you could solve this problem or that problem or whatever it is, my kind of challenge would be to reach out to us and talk to us, because you’re going to get a receptivity from us. We’re really keen to talk to people like you because that idea may end up being a product that can save a lot of lives. And that’s exactly what we’re here as a company to do. So, yeah, it’s a reach out and there are a few different ways you can do that. But we’re very, very keen to talk to you.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome, Peter. And folks, take Peter up on it, right? If there’s an opportunity for you to do something with this platform technology, an opportunity for you to explore, if you could be part of it, whether it be through investment or partnership, I think that now’s the time. So, Peter, what are the ways that people can get in touch?

Peter Vranes:
LinkedIn. Use that. So if you look up my name, Peter Vranes. That’s VRANES. I I think I’m the only one so far. I don’t know. But anyway, Petervranes@nutromics. You can find me on our website. There’s a Contact Us. Nutromics.com.au. And my email. So Peter.Vranes@nutromics.com.au.

Peter Vranes:
Awesome, Peter. This has really been a great chat. Truly inspired by the work that you and your team are up to. And we’re hopeful that that you guys will be the ones that make that vision come true. You know, a closed loop systems for so many so many things that us just I love the vision. So appreciate you jumping on that to tell us more about it.

Peter Vranes:
Yeah. Thanks all. Really love the opportunity to talk to you and your listeners as well. It’s been fun.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it’s been a blast, man. Thank you.

Saul Marquez:
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Things You’ll Learn

  • There are certain times where when you least expect it, some little light bulb goes on and it changes your life.
  • Reflect on what you want in life, and check if you are pursuing a path that gives you satisfaction.
  • Healthcare has a lot of problems that cost lives because certain technologies are unavailable.

Resources

https://www.nutromics.com.au/

Connect thru email: peter.vranes@nutromics.com.au

Connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-vranes-085bb810/