If your body reacts in the way they expect, it would be helpful for your anesthesiology team to predict your body's reaction. In the majority of cases, things work just fine, but if a patient has liver failure, things can get hairy pretty quickly. Over time, that's the problem In Diagnostics is hoping to solve, although it has a few regulatory hurdles to jump through before the device shows up in an ambulance near you. The company's focus is now on the veterinary industry and is nnouncing that it's starting to ship its products to the first wave of customers.
Pitching in TechCrunch's Disrupt Battlefield 20 today, the founding team, Octavian Florescu and Ana Florescu, have spent the past five years building and refining the tech at the heart of the device.
The company has developed a blood-testing platform that takes a drop of blood and displays Diagnostic Tests on a phone or computer. The heart of it is a microchip containing a high-precision spectrophotometer that can analyze blood. The first product is called the Quic ALT+AST test, a glucometer-like test that provides ALT and AST liver enzymes from a drop of blood in as little as 5 minutes.
The journey from genesis to product launch has been circuitous, starting with a UC Berkeley PhD thesis that was spun out into a company, Xip. While developing drop-off blood immunoassay tests for identifying heart attacks in patients experiencing chest pain, the company was acquired by another company. The other company decided not to do anything with it, and the Florescus were able to buy the IP back for pennies on the dollar and continue building the company.
The company's first product is a liver enzyme test aimed at Veterinary and Research Market - and enabling consumers to test the liver health of their pets at home.
It's particularly useful in the research market for laboratory animals. If you have a clinical trial, where you're working with mouse, you have a challenge: Mice have small bodies, so they have very little blood to begin with. So it is very important for them to be able to draw just a little bit of blood and get a sense of how their liver is doing. That's especially important if they are doing any toxicity drug related studies.
In Diagnostics is using similar sample sizes, instead of taking the ever-so-publicly failed Theranos approach of testing for everything on a very small blood sample. A standard single droplet from a pipette is around 50 microliters. In Diagnostics' system, it needs only about 25 microliters to work - so half a drop of blood - to run its tests.
The team showed the product in action, demonstrating that in less than five minutes, its device returned ALT and AST scores of 67 and 151 for ALT and AST. The total result run on the same blood in a fully calibrated laboratory was 70 and 165 - both numbers within 10% of each other, but with cost, portability, convenience, and speed that lab machines can't compete with. The team conducted a correlation study at UC Davis over the course of 60 tests, which saw.98 and.92 correlations.
Why does it matter that so that's all good and well? It turns out, livers are good up to a point, and beyond that point, things go downhill fast.
The key point, the team told me, is that the liver can drop in efficacy up to 80% without any sign of problem: You feel perfectly fine. Then you can go from just 20% liver function to acute liver failure in a very short span of time. The ability to monitor the liver function over time can aid in information about how the liver is doing and take corrective action.
The tech firm raised a $3 million Series A back in 2019, and isn't sure if it will take them toward more VC funding or continue with a lean team and grow off cash flow.
The company makes 400 test chips per day, with a retail price of around $30 per chip. The dongle that plugs into the computer or smartphone is thrown in the box free of charge with a clinic's first order. The company has a plan to significantly expand its manufacturing, and therefore get better unit economics as well.