How Cambridge Biotech Akcea Teaches Its 80 Employees to Put a Human Face on Illnesses


Biotech companies developing drugs for rare diseases often invite patients to visit so workers can put a human face on illnesses that could be viewed as abstract scientific puzzles.

Akcea Therapeutics is taking that idea further — it wants staffers to get a taste of life with a super-rare metabolic disorder. An actual taste.

The Cambridge startup has encouraged its 80 employees to follow a spartan diet that includes almost no fat or simple carbohydrates — and not a drop of alcohol — from December 11 to 15, to help them understand the challenges of mealtime for people with Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome.

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