This New Product Could Help Identify Your Risk of Developing Kidney Disease 


Diabetes can affect nearly every part of the body—including your kidneys. Although, you probably don’t consider your kidneys very often in your day-to-day blood sugar management

Chronically high blood sugar levels can significantly affect the health and function of your kidneys. Monitoring your kidney function with your health care team is integral to managing diabetes. 

Now, there is a new way people with diabetes can keep an eye on their kidneys. Journey Biosciences wants to help prevent kidney disease from surfacing in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes with their flagship product, NaviDKD. 

No product like it has been widely available to patients before, though its science has been studied at length among various researchers. NaviDKD is a simple test that can predict your risk of developing diabetic kidney disease. 

Here, we’ll take a closer look at how Journey Biosciences came to create this unique product. 

Founded with a goal to provide more robust diabetes care 

Journey Biosciences was founded by endocrinologist, Dr. Paul Beisswenger, MD, after feeling frustrated that he couldn’t prevent some of his patients from developing diabetes complications while practicing at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. 

Beisswenger’s drive to understand why some of his patients developed complications while others didn’t, despite having similar levels of glycemic control, led him to start his research on biomarkers and AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts). This journey led to the discovery that specific AGEs are predictive of kidney disease, stemming the creation of Journey Biosciences and NaviDKD.

NaviDKD is a blood test that allows researchers and health care providers to predict a person with diabetes’ risk of developing kidney disease. A small 2mL blood sample can determine if a person with diabetes will likely develop kidney disease in the next 10 to 12 years. 

The product is up to 86 percent accurate in positively predicting kidney disease.

Precise results enable proactive care, reduction in future complications 

Journey Biosciences assesses an individual’s risk of developing kidney disease because everyone has unique circumstances and genetics that can determine their future health. 

Today, data shows that one in three people living with diabetes develops kidney disease in their lifetime—and approximately 30 percent of people with type 1 diabetes. Meanwhile, 10 to 40 percent of people with type 2 diabetes develop end-stage kidney failure. Journey Biosciences wants to reduce these statistics. 

Predicting your risk of developing kidney disease as a person with diabetes can help you change your current care regimen. 

Changes a person might make if their risk of diabetic kidney disease is high include: 

  • Reduce stress. 
  • Exercise routinely.
  • Choose foods with a positive impact on individual health. 
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Limit alcohol intake. 
  • Quit smoking. 

Preventative testing can help reduce the risk of kidney disease, prevent its escalation and even eliminate the need for dialysis. This treatment can cost over $10,000 annually, depending on the type of dialysis you need and the level of care. 

Deborah Ruppert, head of commercial marketing at Journey Biosciences, told Beyond Type 1 that the organization’s goal is to make NaviDKD a standardized part of diabetes care. 

Current kidney diagnostic screening tests, like eGFR and UACR, are not predictive—they only tell you if you have kidney disease. Whereas, NaviDKD gives people with diabetes more hope and information they can use with their health care providers to develop treatment pathways to avoid kidney disease progression.

“It’s a very personalized, precise risk profile,” explains Ruppert. “The patients living with diabetes and their health care providers will be able to come together and say, ‘Okay, if I don’t change X, Y, Z now, this is what my future could look like.’” 

Reimagining diabetes care + education 

Ruppert stresses that diabetes educators will be crucial in moving NaviDKD forward and spreading the word about its benefits to people with diabetes. 

“Diet and exercise play a huge role in lowering [kidney disease] risk,” Ruppert says. “So diabetes educators will not only be crucial for this reason but also because they will be able to motivate and lead people to use helpful diabetes tools and technology.”

Customized action plans that people with diabetes develop with their health  care providers based on their NaviDKD screening results reflect a movement in diabetes care called precision medicine. Precision medicine aims to personalize diabetes care plans to produce the most effective results. 

When bringing NaviDKD to health care providers, Ruppert says they were quick to see the value.

“[Doctors] recognize the tools that we used in the trials to validate were from fundamentally sound studies,” Ruppert says. “There hasn’t been any question as to whether the science was okay. The only questions we’ve gotten have been at the practical level and regarding reimbursements for patients—we’re working on getting reimbursement established as quickly as we can.” 

How can people with diabetes get NaviDKD? 

Journey Biosciences is still in the early stages of launching NaviDKD. When it comes to market, Ruppert explains this is how people with diabetes will be able to get their hands on it: 

  • Sign up to receive information from Journey Biosciences on the company website.  Give your health care provider’s information, so Journey Biosciences can reach out to your provider on your behalf and get a blood test ordered. You don’t have to see an endocrinologist to get the test. A nurse practitioner or primary care provider (PCP) can also order it for you—whoever you see for your diabetes checkups! 
  • Journey Biosciences will also coordinate with a local lab where you can go to get your blood drawn. 
  • Once the blood test is ordered and the vial is filled, it’s shipped safely via FedEx to Journey Bioscience’s labs, which process the data to assess your risk of developing kidney disease. 
  • Journey Biosciences will call to provide a copy of your risk profile (known as a Compass Report) to you and your provider. Results are sent via email and assessed through your Journey Biosciences account. When the information is in you and your provider’s hands, you can use it to develop a preventative care plan and adjust your lifestyle habits together, if needed. 

What does NaviDKD cost? 

NaviDKD isn’t currently covered by insurance, but Journey Biosciences is working hard to change that, as Ruppert and her team know how costly living with diabetes is. The team at Journey Biosciences wants to make the testing accessible and available to everyone who can benefit from it.

“Getting this test could be a big motivator to make important changes,” Ruppert encourages.

The list price of NaviDKD is $499, but promotions will be available to help bring the cost down to as low as $299. In addition to being HSA and FSA-eligible, Journey Biosciences will also provide interest-free payment plans. Most importantly, the lifelong value of these results could help prevent costly medical bills in the future. 

Those interested in NaviDKD should stay tuned for any future reimbursement updates. Journey Biosciences hopes NaviDKD will be available to the general public sometime in early 2023. 

WRITTEN BY Julia Flaherty, POSTED 09/01/22, UPDATED 05/17/23

Julia Flaherty is a published children’s book author, writer, editor, award-winning digital marketer, content creator and diabetes advocate. Find Julia’s first book, “Rosie Becomes a Warrior.” Julia finds therapy in building connections within the diabetes community. Being able to contribute to its progress brings her joy. She loves connecting with the diabetes communities, being creative and storytelling. You will find Julia hiking, traveling, working on her next book, or diving into a new art project in her free time. Connect with Julia on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.