Blood tests play an important role in medicine where it help guide medical decisions. For example, it can assess general state of health, check for infections, see how well certain organs are working, screen for certain genetic conditions, or monitor disease progress. However, drawing blood can cause pain and anxiety, negatively affecting health outcomes. In addition, current technologies require both specialized equipment and personnel, and finding new solutions could both improve efficiency and health outcomes.
The health technology company Seventh Sense Biosystems is developing an innovative device with the aim of eliminating the barriers to successful blood sample collection and testing. Their Touch-Activated Phlebotomy (TAP) technology enables painless, sterile, secure, and convenient blood sample collection without requiring venous access. The device is about the size of the bell of a stethoscope, and uses microneedles to penetrate the uppermost layers of the skin. The microneedles are discharged and retracted at extremely high speed to pierce the skin, creating vacuum to painlessly withdraw capillary blood.
The innovative technology is simple and designed to be both patient and healthcare provider friendly, with minimal training required. The collection site is disinfected before the device is placed on the forearm. After pushing a button, an indicator changes color showing that the collection chamber is full, and the device can be removed.
While current blood collection methods involve numerous steps, and require significant training, potentially leading to variability in results, Seventh Sense has engineered these steps into a single device. The device is sterile and secure, and clinical studies have found no significant difference between TAP and other commonly performed blood tests. The device is set to go through a pivotal trial, and the company is expected to file for marketing authorization in US and EU in the second quarter of 2016.
The innovative technology is particularly useful in difficult-to-draw patients, and it has been able to obtain samples from patients whose blood could not be collected with traditional venipuncture. It also provide a unique solution to the millions of people who have a fear of needles, a fear that leads many of these to forego testing and medical treatment. Reducing the pain and improving the convenience of blood collection could increase adherence to recommended testing, provide doctors with more timely data to base diagnoses and treatment decisions. Ultimately, removing the barriers to successful blood sample collection will lead to better health outcomes.
Seventh Sense Biosystems was founded in 2008 in Flagship VentureLabs, and their investors include Flagship Ventures, Polaris Partners, Siemens AG, Novartis International AG and Labcorp. The company is working on incorporating additional functionalities, such as sample processing technologies and diagnostic capabilities. They also look to include multi-sample collection, plasma separation, dried blood spot production and multiple assays to enable one-step collection and testing.