It’s that time of year again – Celiac Awareness Month! In order to do my part, I am launching another Celiac Series. Last year, I focused on people’s individual stories (click here to read); this time, I am interviewing people about their life-altering products and how they are changing the Celiac game.
3 million Americans have Celiac Disease: 1.8 million have no idea they do.
That statistic right there is why Celiac Awareness Month is so important. If people don’t know to test for Celiac Disease (CD), how will they ever heal their gut?! Celiacs have to be very intentional about pursuing a strict gluten-free diet, the only known treatment for CD. Even though strides are being made towards a cure, the cure cannot help you if you don’t know you are Celiac.
This is where imaware™ comes in. This company launched only this year and is already empowering so many people. “imaware™ is the first at-home small volume blood testing platform that provides awareness of conditions such as Celiac Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. [They] work with the leading medical professionals and scientists to design and validate each test. In fact, [they are] the only at-home test for Celiac Disease that has been published in a peer-review journal - CCLM.”
I took their blood test at home earlier this year, and not only were the results delivered quickly and accurately, but I found a convenient way to monitor my gluten levels without having to see a doctor and go to a lab. To see how easy the test was (and I loathe needles), check out my earlier blog post and video here.
Even though imaware™ launched the Celiac test first, they actually began their company by testing blood for prostate cancer and found they could detect its presence at very low levels. They “felt that this type of health information should be in the hands of customers directly, and so [they] started developing [their] Direct to Consumer product.” Why did they choose to test Celiac Disease first? Founder Jani Tuomi “has several friends who have [CD], and the stories [he] heard about how hard it was to get tested, how often it was misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed, led [them] to do [their] part for the community of people with undiagnosed Celiac Disease and build this test.”
For some unknown reason, several doctors refuse patients when they ask for a Celiac blood test. Tuomi and imaware™ created a way to obtain doctor-verified proof of CD that the patient can show his or her doctor in order to receive further testing (or eliminate CD as a possibility once and for all). imaware™’s test also provides a way for established Celiacs, like myself, to monitor blood levels and ensure that we are following our gluten-free diets correctly. How many times have we accidentally eaten foods or used products we believed to be gluten-free only to get sick afterwards? imaware™ notifies us via blood levels that we need to look closer into our diet. After all, not all of us experience symptoms after ingesting gluten, so monitoring our blood levels is the simplest way to be sure we are doing the best for our bodies.
imaware™ has a bright future. They have recently partnered with Beyond Celiac, an organization focused on raising awareness and finding a cure, “to share education about the condition, including symptoms and how to get tested and diagnosed, with the broader community. Lastly, [they] are working with the Society for the Study of Celiac Disease (SSCD) to explore research programs, which could help identify new methods of testing or diagnosis.”
Tuomi states, “I see us doing our part to help reduce Celiac Disease’s undiagnosed rates, and over the longer-term, I believe we'll be launching an updated test panel that is more comprehensive and covers other conditions that have similar symptoms. We really hope to become a household brand that people know and trust.” imaware™ is well on its way to becoming a fixture in the Celiac world, with several customers having already emailed Tuomi thanking him and imaware™ for creating a test that has significantly impacted their quality of life.
Business Advice from Jani Tuomi:
“The best lesson I learned [from starting my own business] is that whoever told me to reach out to the community early was right. By connecting with people…I've heard many stories and I've learned so much. We couldn't have made imaware™ as effective without the support of the community."
To read more about imaware™ or to get $10 off your screening test or monitoring test, click here! (Click the test names themselves for $10 off through May.)
To read more about Celiac Disease or review some of my FAQs about gluten, check out this page on my website.