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New Insulin Pump Is Camouflaged As Consumer Electronics

TANDEM DIABETES CARE INC.

President and CEO: Kim Blickenstaff.

Financial data: Would not disclose.

No. of local employees: 96.

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Investors: Domain Associates LLC of La Jolla, Delphi Ventures of Menlo Park, Kearny Venture Partners of San Francisco, TPG Biotech of San Francisco, HLM Venture Partners of San Francisco, and others.

Headquarters: Sorrento Valley.

Year founded: 2006.

Company description: A medical device company that’s in late-stage development of a compact touch-screen insulin pump for diabetics.

Key factors for success: To guide the design of functionality of its product, the company gathered input from thousands of people with diabetes and interviewed doctors about how to improve insulin delivery.

Tandem Diabetes Care Inc., a San Diego medical device company that’s seeking FDA clearance for a sleek insulin pump, has raised $12 million in a new financing round that’s expected to eventually total $13.7 million, according to an Aug. 18 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“All of our insiders came back for this next round,” said Susan Morrison, director of corporate and investor relations for Tandem. “We have great investors on board.”

The company’s top investors include Domain Associates LLC of La Jolla, Delphi Ventures of Menlo Park, Kearny Venture Partners of San Francisco, TPG Biotech of San Francisco, HLM Venture Partners of Boston.

Even though there are already a handful of insulin pumps on the market from established players such as Medtronic and Roche, Tandem thinks its product will have an edge because of its slim form and user-friendly interface, Morrison said.

A Different Look

After seeking input on pump design from more than 4,000 health care professionals and people with Type 1 diabetes who are in the target market, the company sought to make its pump “sleek, make it modern and make it not look like a medical device,” Morrison said.

The end result is a product that looks more like an iPhone than an insulin pump; it’s even charged with a USB port.

Morrison declined to say when the product was submitted for the FDA’s 510(k) review process for medical devices, or what the expected time frame is for bringing the pump to market.

Nearly 19 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association’s 2011 data. Only about 5 percent of those people have Type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the body does not produce insulin — a hormone that’s needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. People with Type 1 diabetes are the prime market for diabetes pumps, but those with the more common form of diabetes, Type 2, have begun using them as well, the association said.

There are a number of key health advantages to using an insulin pump instead of administering injections with a syringe. Pumps, which deliver insulin continuously throughout the day through a catheter, can help to keep blood glucose levels within target ranges both day and night.

On the negative side, the devices can be bothersome because they require diabetics to be attached to the pumps all day, and they could cause weight gain, the American Diabetes Association said.

Tandem’s product, called t:slim, is about the size of a credit card and features a color touch-screen. It uses a proprietary “micro-delivery” technology that’s unlike other products on the market, Morrison said. The pump works in conjunction with Tandem’s software product, t:connect, which can program the pump and produce insulin reports for users.

Tandem intends to provide round-the-clock technical support for customers from its San Diego offices.

The company — with 96 employees and more than two dozen open positions listed on its website — declined to disclose financial data in its SEC filing, but indicated that the money raised was not in any way related to a business combination transaction, such as a merger or acquisition.

Tandem is led by President and CEO Kim Blickenstaff, who was formerly the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Biosite Inc., a medical diagnostic company that was acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations for $1.8 billion in June 2007.

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