Research Foundation News

May 1, 2019

Effort to improve rescue kits for people with diabetes, hypoglycemia gets $1.4 million boost with SBIR grant

monon-bioventures Purdue University and Monon Bioventures have received a National Institutes of Health SBIR grant to develop better rescue kits for hypoglycemia. (Stock photo) Download image

Monon Bioventures and Purdue University awarded grant to improve diabetes treatment 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar. Diabetic patients also can experience extremely low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, after fasting, exercising or too large a dose of insulin. If untreated, severe hypoglycemia can lead to coma or even death.

Rescue kits for hypoglycemia are available but are cumbersome and difficult to use. Current rescue kits require someone to mix a solution with dried glucagon in a vial and then put it into a syringe and properly administer it to the patient. Because more than 100 million adults in the United States live with diabetes or prediabetes, the need is great to find better solutions to treat hypoglycemia effectively.

A National Institutes of Health SBIR Phase I/II grant worth up to $1.4 million was recently awarded to Monon Bioventures, LLC to develop better rescue kits for hypoglycemia. The grant will fund a collaboration with Purdue Universitys Elizabeth Topp, a professor of industrial and physical pharmacy. The grant will support the pre-clinical development of novel derivatives of glucagon, the drug used in rescue kits.        

Topp is working with Mark Heiman, the chief science officer for Monon Bioventures and former chief science officer for Lilly Obesity, to develop an easier solution. They faced a challenge when developing their technology: Glucagon is poorly soluble and unstable in solution. They solved this challenge by using derivatives of glucagon, which they have shown to be soluble and stable in solution.

The glucagon analogs created at Purdue are quickly reconverted after injection to natural glucagon by enzymes in the body. This process creates an easier and quicker alternative to delivering glucagon to a person in need. 

“Utilizing Topp’s innovative approach, we will be able to significantly improve patient access to this important medicine,” Heiman said. “The new glucagon solution will enable the development of much easier delivery methods such as an EpiPen-like device. Intranasal delivery may even be possible, and the derivatives may allow for the realization of an effective, dual-hormone artificial pancreas.”

Topp has been working with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and Monon Bioventures LLC, a company created to help investigators translate their research into the clinic, to develop and patent the glucagon derivatives for the improved glucagon solutions. The CEO of Monon Bioventures LLC, Joseph Trebley, received his PhD from Purdue’s College of Pharmacy

“We couldn’t be more excited about working with Topp and Purdue on this important project,” Trebley said. “The commercial and drug development expertise of Monon Bioventures and the innovative thinking coming out of Purdue University is really an ideal match. We think that this will be the first of many such collaborations.”

Their work aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, acknowledging the university’s global advancements in health as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, 

Elizabeth Topp,

Mark Heiman,

Joseph Trebley, 

Research Foundation News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-22 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at