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UF startup replaces drug injections with simple patches to empower global health and improve lives.
Grasshopper Illangkoon
Identity Verified
Email Verified
Gainesville, Florida
United States
3 Team Members

We're Prometheon, a University of Florida- based startup, and our mission is to improve global health. 

We have developed a simple, painless, multi-day patch to eliminate needle injection of drugs. These patches need little refrigeration, so we can distribute them to sub-Saharan African and rural Asia, India, all corners of the globe. 

If we can get an ice-cold Coke anywhere in the world, we can get our patches there.

Our first product in development is an insulin patch. 

Diabetes is often incorrectly thought to be the result of poor choices, and not a big deal. As we connect with the diabetes community, we have realized how incredibly hard a disease this is to manage and live with. 

To give you, and us, an idea of what it is like to live with diabetes for just a couple minutes, check this out:

The Team:

Prometheon Pharma is housed in the University of Florida's Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator- Ranked "World’s Best Biotechnology Incubator" in 2013 by the National Business Incubation Association. 


Dr. Stephen Hsu: Harvard-trained MD/PhD with multiple patents and experience creating programs to improve global health. Passionate about health equity, music, and martial arts. Full bio.

Devon Grimme: MBA with (successful) startup experience in several industries. Passionate about people, travel, and scuba diving. Full bio. 

Heshan "Grasshopper" Illangkoon: PhD in Biochemistry with a specialization in Astrobiology & Synthetic Biology. He has started successful social enterprises in Tanzania. Passionate about technology, food, and Science. Full bio.  

Our technology is receiving attention from the scientific community. We have been invited to present at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting (June 2014), the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology (Sep 2014), and we are submitting our manuscript to a major international peer-reviewed journal in the field of diabetology this month!

Join our team by spreading the word to support our campaign! You will make life better for countless people around the world. 

Please donate to help us revolutionize the future of drug delivery for all people who have to inject drugs like insulin.  We are developing the first truly needle-free basal insulin patch.  We have trade marked our patch products as TruePatch to distinguish them from microneedle patches (sometimes referred to as being "needleless" and having "protrusions").

The Purpose:  

Patches today, cure tomorrow.

Help us get patches to market for a painless treatment option. For every dollar raised with this campaign, we will donate TWO dollars to a cure as soon as we are profitable. 


Prometheon Pharma is a University of Florida- based startup that has developed a technology to create needle-free patch products.  The basal insulin TruePatch is only the beginning.

Check out our recent TV news coverage our Front Page news coverage, and our industry coverage.

To really learn about us, check out this hour-long interview with TuDiabetes.org

By supporting our NoPricks campaign, you will help us complete the next phase of our study and keep us on track to get to market by 2018

You will join a community of people who are passionate about improving lives and changing the way biotech is funded, bringing power back to the people we will serve. 

Let's build that global community and movement--together.    

Show your support by changing your Facebook/Twitter cover photo..

Eliminate needle injection using our simple patch technology and:

  • Ease suffering for hundreds of millions of people worldwide
  • Improve patient quality of life and convenience
  • Ensure global access to our temperature-stable, lifesaving treatments
  • Lower healthcare costs around the world
Starting with insulin, and expanding to hormones and vaccines.

"Our Topicon patch technology is to needle injection what Netflix was to Blockbuster and Tesla (electric car) is to the automobile industry.  It will fundamentally and radically change the way we think about drug delivery. Revolutionary technologies often take some time to replace earlier technologies.  The needle and syringe was first patented in 1853 in Scotland. The inertia of using needles and syringes for 161 years has created an industry that has a lot to lose if needle injection devices are no longer necessary," says Dr. Stephen Hsu, the Founder and CEO of our company, Prometheon Pharma, and the inventor of the Topicon patch technology.  

The Impact

Is the needle in the photo too long to be used for insulin injections?  Yes of course. We all know that.  But in the imagination of a child, all needles are too long.

You can help 350 MILLION people around the world stop having to inject themselves with insulin several times a day. 

You can help lower healthcare costs and complications from diabetes

Chances are you know someone with diabetes- ask them what this would mean to them. 

Use of Funds:

Begin large animal studies required by the FDA to apply for human trials.

  • Animal acquisition and housing exceeding highest standards
  • Contract research organization fees to validate our data
  • Rent and salaries to complete the studies
  • Join a social movement on the leading edge of technology

Description Budget
Product Development (Animal & Toxicology Studies)/ Optimization  $  771,798
Manufacturing / Process Development  $  10,000
Program and Regulatory Management of Patch Project  $  77,778
Operations  $ 140,424
Total   $1,000,000

    Risks & Challenges

    There are two main risks that we face:

    The first is under-capitalization. Since we are deeply committed to the core value of a social mission, we are developing products that have the potential to impact large populations worldwide. Funding a social enterprise is a bit more challenging than attracting traditional investments. We are actively pursuing many funding sources, but the process takes a while to finalize. You can help us accelerate the process. Initiating clinical trials is our target milestone, which will significantly lower risk and attract more investors at this critical stage.

    The other major risk to getting to market is FDA approval. This is greatly reduced because we aren't developing a new drug. Insulin has been in use for almost a hundred years, has been studied in hundreds of clinical trials, and has a long safety and efficacy track record. We just have to show our own formulation is safe for human use. This gives us the advantage of requiring much less time and money to get the insulin patch approved, compared to the process for a totally new drug. 

    Our development plan accounts for these and other factors, and breaks up our overall plan into milestones so that we can keep moving forward, one step at a time. We are raising funds and investing time only after we have demonstrated success at each stage.

    Diabetes is a huge issue and there are many new technologies coming out trying to improve care.

    None are so convenient, painless, simple and inexpensive!

    More and more patches are being developed, but none can deliver molecules as large as ours. 


    Why are you qualified and why target diabetes?

    Our founder-CEO-CSO is a Harvard-trained clinician, PhD scientist, inventor, and public health expert. His broad and international experience is well suited to pursue development of the insulin patch. Hear it in his own words, and learn more about our team here.

    Why is this patch different, and why does it work for insulin delivery where others have failed?

    This patch continuously and consistently delivers insulin for up to 7 days. The patch can be replaced at any time with a new one to suit user lifestyle and convenience. Insulin delivery can also be immediately stopped by removing the patch, a great advantage over oral, inhaled, or injected insulin delivery. Our founder has a pretty cool theory on why we were able to do what others couldn’t. The definitive structure of the armor-like outer most barrier of the skin called the stratum corneum (SC), which is the primary barrier to drug delivery, was only determined and published in 2012 by Professor Lars Norlen. We actually didn't really understand how to alter the SC to allow for delivery of large drugs like insulin and even the majority of small chemical drugs. The structure is quite surprising and different than what had been previously adopted. Dr. Hsu developed a formulation that is consistent with this surprising structure of the SC. Check it out below, and then learn how we stack up to other types of insulin delivery methods.

    Do you have any preliminary results?

    Yes, and they are very exciting! We compared injection (on the left) vs. our patch (on the right) for lowering blood sugar (glucose) into the normal range in rats with type 1 diabetes. What we saw was that the patch had a vastly superior effect on blood glucose levels. When we injected six different animals with the same amount of insulin, the effects ranged from no effect at all to a dangerously low level of blood glucose (hypoglycemia). However, when we applied the patch, there was a very consistent and predictable response. The blood glucose level in all seven animals was lowered into the normal range. This means that less insulin can be used in the patch to predictably and consistently have the same effect every time, and eliminate dangerous variations from injection to injection. These graphs also show that removal of the insulin patch quickly stops the delivery of insulin, which can sometimes be important.

                                 Injection                                                          Patch

    Conclusion: the patch consistently lowers glucose levels to the ideal range. Injection is very unpredictable- 6 animals have 6 different results. 

    How much and how long do you need to get to market?

    Our path to market is actually quite inexpensive and rapid, compared to a traditional discovery-to-approval process.

    Since insulin is already approved, is known to be safe and effective, and hundreds of clinical trials have already been done, we will file for FDA approval under what’s called a 505(b)2 pathway. We don’t need to repeat extensive studies of insulin absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination. We just need to demonstrate that the insulin TruePatchTM is safe (no skin toxicity) and show that it is at least as effective as needle injection. This means that clinical trials will be much shorter and less expensive than for a new drug.

    All told, we will need about $75 million- $100 million on a 5 year development path, compared to around $2 BILLION and 12 years to get a completely new drug approved. This will help us to make our products very inexpensive.

    How exactly will funding be used?

    The money we are raising through Indiegogo will be used to fund large animal studies that will allow us to apply for FDA trials in humans next year. The animal model we will use is the pig, a standard approach for patch studies since they are very similar to humans in body surface area, weight, and how their endocrine system works. We also have to pay a Contract Research Organization (CRO) to independently validate the safety of the insulin patches. The data from the pig studies will allow us to apply for FDA approval to conduct Phase 1 clinical trials to assess the safety of the insulin TruePatchTM. Some of the funds will also go toward overhead like legal fees, rent, salaries, supplies, and lab equipment to keep us moving forward.

    If this is so groundbreaking, why haven’t you gotten more funding?

    We are pursuing funding from all sources including grants, private donors and investors, foundations, and industry partnerships. It takes a lot of time to identify and develop relationships and form agreements with all of these sources. Additionally, major funding sources typically get involved only once a treatment has been approved for human trials. In the meantime, we want to move as quickly as we can to ensure that this treatment gets to the market and starts improving lives as quickly as possible. That’s why we are here to ask for your help to accelerate the process of getting our patches into the hands of those who need them.

    Has this science been peer-reviewed or published?

    We were invited to give a scientific poster presentation this past June at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association - which is considered to be a premier event in the academic diabetes community. We have also been invited to give an oral presentation this coming September at the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology. By the time you read this, we will have just submitted our first manuscript for publication to a premier international peer-reviewed diabetes journal.

    Is this patch safe?

    Yes, our TruePatchTM delivers the same insulin that has been safely on the market for almost a hundred years. It contains non-toxic and non-irritating ingredients for insulin delivery and patch adhesion. The patch, like a simple bandage, can be immersed in water and stay on, but if it becomes too wet or dirty, it can simply be swapped out and the same dose will continue to be delivered.

    Are there other uses for this technology?

    As a platform technology, there are many potential uses. So far we have data confirming that we can deliver insulin; human growth hormone; and a compound gel to stimulate hair growth better than leading products.

    We are also confident that our insulin patch could be used to treat prediabetes, which affects 86 million Americans, and prevent progression to type 2 diabetes. Insulin therapy, along with diet and exercise, has been shown to reverse prediabetes. But the need to inject daily has been the barrier to prevention in people who are at very high risk. A convenient patch overcomes this barrier and allows growing numbers of people with prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes. Our insulin patch can actually change the natural history of the development of type 2 diabetes.

    Further, imagine a convenient once weekly patch that delivers a fixed dose of a combination of drugs to treat depression, so that the patient can actually follow the treatment and get the benefit. How about a patch to prevent or treat blood clots in the leg? Or a combination blood pressure/cholesterol/insulin patch? The possibilities are massive!

    Will you have pre-meal/rapid acting insulin?

    We have established that we can and will develop pre-meal/rapid-acting insulin patches as soon as we can, but we are focusing on a long-acting basal insulin patch because it is the foundation of all insulin therapy. Time, resource constraints, and regulatory strategy factor into our development plan.

    How did Prometheon get its start?

    Dr. Hsu invented and patented our company’s patch technology in the spring of 2011. He was determined not to just let his scientific discovery be published in a journal, but to ensure that it’s enormous potential for social impact be fully realized. In August 2012, Prometheon’s efforts as a biotech startup really began. Dr. Hsu was accepted into the University of Florida’s globally ranked #1 Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator and moved in with his R&D staff. Since then, he has been fully dedicated to creating simple solutions to the world’s biggest health problems. Today, we remain just as committed to our core value of advancing health equity. Learn more about our history.

    What traction have you gotten so far?

    2011: Strong multinational patents filed
    2011: Semi-Finalist, Cade Museum Innovation Prize Contest
    2012: Final Four, Cade Museum Innovation Prize Contest
    2013: Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute named Best Incubator (National Business Incubation Association)
    2014: Invited Scientific Presentation at ADA and ESPE annual meetings, publish manuscripts
    2014: Launch crowdfunding campaign for large animal studies (thanks for your help!)

    Thank you so much!!

    Please share this campaign with everyone you know- to have a global impact we need a global community! Share this on Facebook, Twitter, and learn more at www.nopricks.com. Show your support by changing your Facebook/Twitter cover photo.

    For questions, comments, and press inquiries, we'd love to hear from you! contact@prometheonpharma.com 

    We are located in the University of Florida's Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator

    12085 Research Dr. Rm 148

    Alachua, FL 32615

    Thanks once again, let's change the world!

    - The Prometheon/NoPricks Team

    Find This Campaign On
    raised by 245 people in 2 months
    18% funded
    No time left
    $75,000 USD goal
    Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
    Campaign Closed
    This campaign ended on September 26, 2014
    Select a Perk
    • $1USD
      Support #NoPricks

      You'll have our unending thanks!

      22 claimed
    • $5USD
      Your Name on Thank You Page

      We will put your name or Twitter handle on a special Thank You page on NoPricks.com You will have our eternal gratitude!

      28 claimed
      Estimated delivery: July 2014
    • $10USD
      3-Pack of #NoPricks Stickers

      Perfect for your carrying case, sharps box, or to share with a friend! Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Includes name on the thank you page.

      19 claimed
      Estimated delivery: July 2014
    • $25USD
      #NoPricks Needle Pen

      We will donate 1 patch in your honor to a developing country once they are on the market. We will send you a syringe-shaped pen with the #NoPricks logo so you can write letters to your friends about how much you hate needles! Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

      18 claimed
      Estimated delivery: July 2014
    • $50USD
      #NoPricks T-Shirt

      We will donate 2 patches in your honor to a developing country once they are on the market. Show all your friends that you are tired of needles and make new friends with this wearable conversation piece! Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery!

      14 claimed
      Estimated delivery: July 2014
    • $100USD
      Your Name on Founder's Wall

      We will donate 5 patches in your honor to a developing country once they are on the market, AND: We will engrave your name, or that of a loved one, on the Founder's Wall plaque and display it in our lab. You will become a permanent part of our family and history. We will send you a personal letter hand-signed by our CEO thanking you for your efforts and take a picture once the plaque is up.

      25 claimed
      Estimated delivery: August 2014
    • $500USD
      1-on-1 Video Chat with our CEO

      We will donate 1 month's worth of patches in your honor to anyone of your choosing, including yourself or someone in a developing country. These patches will be from the first batch manufactured for the market. AND: Our CEO will sit down to discuss our work or yours and share the vision we have for our future. You will get to say you knew him before he was famous!

      1 claimed
      Estimated delivery: August 2014
    • $1,500USD
      Donate Year of Patches

      For $1500, you can provide a year's worth of patches to anyone of your choosing, including yourself or someone in a developing country. These patches will be from the first batch manufactured for the market. In addition to giving them lifesaving and convenient treatment, you will keep hundreds of needles from being reused or ending up in streams, fields, or landfills. We will also send you a #NoPricks shirt in appreciation of your support.

      0 claimed
    • $3,500USD
      Flown in for Lab Visit

      We will fly you in coach to visit our lab and have a 1-hour meeting with the CEO and executive team. We will cover accommodations for 1 night in Gainesville. Flights from major US airport closest to you. International flights unavailable, but you can fly to a major airport in the US and we'll get you the rest of the way!

      1 claimed
      Estimated delivery: August 2014
    • $10,000USD
      First Class Lab Tour Weekend

      You will be our guest of honor for the weekend (1 person). We will you fly in (first class) for 2 nights in Gainesville. You will get a lab tour, meeting with the CEO, and dinner with the CEO at one of Gainesville's finest restaurants. We will take pictures of your visit and send you home with framed mementos of your visit and important part of our history. Flights from US only.

      0 claimed
      Estimated delivery: August 2014
    • $25,000USD
      Name the CEO's Office

      Receive the same guest of honor package as above for you and 1 guest, and we will place a plaque on the wall outside the CEO's office, naming it after you. Flights from US only.

      0 out of 1 claimed
      Estimated delivery: September 2014
    • $50,000USD
      Name our Conference Room

      Receive the same treatment as the Name the CEO's office reward, but instead our conference room will be named in your honor. Put your name on a room where important partnerships are formed, shaping the company's future. First class US flights for 2, 2 nights accommodation, lab tour, meeting, dinner with the CEO, and plaque naming the conference room in your memory.

      0 out of 1 claimed
      Estimated delivery: September 2014
    • $100,000USD
      Name our Research Institute

      Receive the same treatment as the Name the CEO's office reward, but instead our Research Institute will be named in honor of yourself or a loved one. Name the Research Institute where history-making products are developed. First class US flights for 2, 2 nights accommodation, lab tour, meeting, dinner with the CEO, and plaque naming the lab in your memory.

      0 out of 1 claimed
      Estimated delivery: October 2014
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