The past decade has seen a flurry of promising breakthroughs in health technologies, many of which hold the potential to increase life expectancy and improve quality of life. However, many people in developing countries do not have access to these technologies, even the basic ones.
Facilities in resource-poor settings frequently lack access to laboratories that produce reliable diagnoses. In addition, health care facilities can be far away, serving widely dispersed populations. The difficulty of producing a diagnosis seriously affect treatment efficacy, which could become a starting point for epidemics and contribute to the development of drug resistant parasites.
The Neuchâtel and Boston-based startup 1Drop Diagnostics aim to increase access to quality healthcare by providing easy to use medical diagnostics in any setting. The company, founded by Luc Gervais and Jörg Ziegler, has developed a patented device that provides rapid, accurate, precise and sensitive diagnostics of multiple biomarkers from one drop of sample.
The affordable device is composed of a disposable microfluidic chip and a handheld reader. The capillary-driven microfluidic chip detects multiple biomarkers after applying a single drop of blood. All processing steps are encoded in the chip, making sure there is no need for other equipment, as well as very easy to use by non-trained users. The chip is simply inserted into the reader, and biomarkers are quantified in 10 minutes, before the results are transmitted and visualized on a computer.
There is a huge demand for diagnostics devices that deliver laboratory quality results in an affordable format in primary care settings, and not only in the developing world. The worldwide point-of-care diagnostics market is estimated at $18 billion, with growth rate of 6% in 2015. It can be used in any emergency rooms, clinics, pharmacies or rehabilitation center, and it save the time of both patients and healthcare workers. It not only save costs to the health care system, but provide better health outcomes for patients. 1Drop Diagnostics has the potential of disrupting an entire industry by increasing efficiency, while at the same time increasing access to quality healthcare.
The technology has been validated for detecting multiple cardiac markers, and it is expected to enter the market for research use only in mid-2016. The startup will perform clinical trials to obtain CE-mark and FDA approval for the point-of-care device in 2017, before entering the market in 2018.