Six Blood Testing Startups Heading for Greatness
Last year, stats claimed that 70% of startup tech companies would fail less than two years after raising their first financing. Such a figure aligns with the common thought regarding startups, that actually no one has much faith in them.
However, when biotechnology startup Theranos first burst onto the scene, everyone had high hopes. They promised to create a technology that could run approximately 200 diagnostic tests from a drop of blood. But, after such great expectations the technology didn’t really work, and ended up returning faulty test results, leaving the company slapped with lawsuits, and police began snooping. Despite such a downfall though, they have managed to just about stay above water. Nobody knows how, but they rolled out a new product in 2016, mainly to test for the Zika virus, as well as secured $100 million in debt financing last month.
Using Theranos as inspiration, Nanalyze has gathered together six blood testing startups that are hoping to follow in their footsteps, this time following more of a steady journey.
Coming straight out of San Diego, the company has raised about $91.8 million in disclosed funding for its Maverick Detection System. TechCrunch has reported that the system can run up to 128 different tests on a single finger prick of blood in under 15 minutes. The platform is built around a disposable array that contains 12 of these silicon chips that can detect in real-time when proteins or antibodies bind to the sensors.
After carrying out field tests of its system in collaboration with rheumatologist offices in San Diego and Orange County, it is finally show-time. Genalyte debuted the system during the 36th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Founded by two college dropouts, Athelas has a $3.5 million vote of confidence from Sequoia Capital, another huge player in the technology VC world, bringing total funding to around $3.7 million. Its 60-second-at-home blood test, housed inside a compartment very similar to that of the Amazon Echo, is reportedly able to test for diseases such as the flu, bacterial infections and even cancer. Right now, the device is being used for cancer patients to monitor white blood cell counts for chemotherapy.
The process relies on machine learning, that was trained on thousands of images of blood cells vetted by pathologists. They have even managed to secure FDA approval for using its device for imaging diagnostics.
The company, who can detect more than 1,000 infectious diseases by analysing fragments of DNA in the blood, has raised $55 million, including a sizable $50 million Series A in August that included the likes of Khosla and Chinese tech giant Tencent.
Karius was able to help diagnose a three-year-old child with rat-bite fever in just one day, a diagnosis that might have taken months using standard procedures. However, the technology is still in its testing phase, and costs $2,000 ago, so whatever you have better be pretty bad.
Founded back in 2013, this startup has $2 million in disclosed funding. It’s main backer appears to be SOSV, who specialises in early-stage startups, and Orphidia went through SOSV’s biotechnology accelerator IndieBio.
They are developing a portable device that can run 40 common diagnostic tests from a single drop of blood, returning results in 20 minutes.
Taking in approximately $11 million in debt financing back in 2016, this startup isn’t trying to cram everything into one, and instead has a product line for a number of different screenings.
Its only U.S. approved blood assay is a pregnancy test, which is more accurate than a urine test and offers equally reliable results compared to standard blood tests at point-of-care facilities without the need for a lab. In addition, they market three cardiac tests and three toxicology tests in Europe, and is also developing rapid blood tests for sexually transmitted diseases, food intolerance, and common infectious diseases like pink eye and influenza.
It would seem that Theranos’, not quite easy entry into the market hasn’t deterred these startups from trying to put their mark on the blood diagnostic industry. One incentive might be that the world is projected to spend $18 trillion per year on healthcare by 2040, but we’d like to think their sole mission is to help fight chronic and infectious diseases, while combating the high cost of medical care.
I mean, whoever manages to eventually develop highly reliable, cheap and minimally invasive diagnostic test will finally fulfil the overdue promise of Theranos.