JustMilk is dedicated to improving maternal and infant health by developing top quality medical devices. They are currently developing a Nipple Shield Delivery System (NSDS) to safely and effectively deliver drugs and nutrients to breastfeeding infants. The novel system consists of a thin, disposable silicone device, which is modified to hold a dispersible therapeutic tablet. The device is placed over the nipple, and the tablet is directly delivered to the infant via the breast milk. The technology enable a wide range of active pharmaceutical ingredient to be delivered to infants, including antibiotics, antimalarials, antiretrovirals, vitamins, nutrients and probiotics.
The story began back in 2008 at the International Development Design Summit, where an international team was given a month to tackle an enormous question: how can we prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV around the globe? The idea of JustMilk was born, a nipple shield that would release antiviral compound in breast milk to nursing infants. And although the function as a technology is slightly different today than originally intended, their mission of neonatal health is still at the core.
While the understanding of drug delivery in infants has advanced over the past several decades, there is still a deficiency of technologies developed specifically for this population. The innovative device developed by JustMilk does not require refrigeration, water for cleaning and suspending medication, or literacy for dose measurement, circumventing many of the current challenges in infant drug delivery involving dosage, storage and hygiene. They have developed a more effective, safer, simpler and more convenient technology that is set to change how we deliver medications to infants in both developed countries and low-resource settings, while encouraging the natural and healthy process of breastfeeding. It could potentially improve treatment outcomes, save millions around the world, and become a major tool in the global fight against malnutrition, infectious diseases and other health crises.
The innovative drug delivery system is currently in initial testing, and the startup has so far completed two acceptability studies with community stakeholder to understand potential cultural barriers in device use. So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and the startup earlier in 2016 won Pitch@Palace and was a finalist of MassChallenge UK. The startup was also the winner of the IChemE 2016 Resource-Poor Technology Award, as well as a finalist of their Best Business Start-Up Award. JustMilk has formed an impressive network and some of their partners and supporters include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, UK Aid and Venture Well.