Business Insight

COVID-19 AND THE RAPID GROWTH IN THE HEALTH ECOSYSTEM

Speed is critical. As coronavirus (COVID-19) quickly spreads across the world, officials face the daunting task of tracing case contacts and containing the pathogen. With quarantines increasing across the globe, healthcare providers and governments must utilize solutions beyond their walls to monitor the coronavirus more than ever. Luckily, startups and researchers around the world are already pivoting their technologies to help fight the spread of this deadly virus.

Existing modern solutions in diagnostics, monitoring, and molecular development are being used as powerful tools to help fight the current pandemic. These technologies can help identify outbreak hotspots, prevent infections, reduce the need for physical contact in diagnostics, and even work towards developing a vaccine for COVID-19.

We’ve pulled together some of the most exciting startups in the health ecosystem with solutions that can help speed up the world’s recovery from the dangerous pandemic. These solutions vary from remote patient monitoring, detecting pathogens, leveraging molecular diagnostics, and point of care diagnostics, such as using vaccines, ventilators, and respiratory protective devices.

  1. Remote Patient Monitoring / Wireless Medical Devices

Remote patient monitoring solutions refers to the collection of medical health data and vitals. This data is then transmitted to providers who can remotely monitor these patients and take action when necessary.

Some startups with solutions under this category include

  • Binah.ai

Binah.ai is a video-based app which removes the need for wearables and provides vital signs measurements such as heart rate, heart rate variability, mental stress, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, and more – all with medical-grade accuracy.

This also allows patients who are feeling ill to schedule an appointment with a doctor through video, allowing them to remain at home while they may be contagious.

  • ContinUse Biometrics

This Tel Aviv-based startup is reimagining global health monitoring. ContinUse biometrics developed a contact-free sensing platform that provides highly accurate physiological measurements within a multitude of environments.

Backed by extensive clinical data, CU-BX® proprietary optic-based sensors monitor key biometric parameters such as respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and breathing patterns with medical-grade accuracy.

  • HealthBeats

HealthBeats is a globally operating remote vitals monitoring platform designed to bring healthcare to home. HealthBeats provides users with medical devices to self-monitor themselves regularly and to have their results transmitted in real-time to care providers for proactive care management.

 

               2.  Detecting Pathogens

The new coronavirus appears to be fairly easily spread. People with COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the coronavirus, spread viral particles through coughing and sneezing. The particles can land in the mouths or noses of those nearby. Solutions that detect airborne pathogens may help us identify risk in social determinants.

Some startups with solutions under this category include

  • Koniku 

Koniku has developed an advanced piece of technology called wetware. They merge biological neurons with silicon technology complete with odor sensing, classification, and real biological learning.

This technology is used as a contactless odor surveillance system, and it has found applicability within airport security.

  • Nuwave Sensors

NuWave Sensors develops a range of smart air quality sensors designed to monitor airborne contaminants in industrial and commercial environments continuously.

Their clients include healthcare facilities, manufacturing, food processing, and cleanroom environments, as well as research and environmental monitoring.

 

              3. Molecular Diagnostics 

As of May 2, 2019, the NCDC has identified 2388 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Nigeria and 85 deaths. However, public health experts say the only reason why those numbers have not exploded is that the nation has far too few diagnostic test kits. Lagging inventory has slowed testing. The need for a scalable diagnostic solution is beyond doubt. Here are a few startups taking on this challenge.

  • Biomeme

Biomeme’s platform transforms your smartphone into a mobile lab for advanced DNA diagnostics and real-time disease surveillance. With the aid of a mobile app to control the system and analyze results, and targeted test kits for preparing samples and identifying pathogens or diseases by their specific DNA or RNA signatures.

  • Genomtec 

Genomtec developed a smartphone-sized genetic analyzer for infection detection in the doctor’s office in less than 15 minutes. Their technology combines optical heating and detection with microfluidics and reagents stable at room temperature.

 

               4. Point of Care Diagnostics 

Point of Care Diagnostics becomes ever more important as the numbers of those diagnosed with COVID-19 increase every day. A pandemic outbreak leads to an exponential growth rate for as long as the uninfected and the infected continue to interact. There are still large numbers of uninfected people running the risk of getting infected.

Here are a few startups taking on this challenge.

  • Mammoth Biosciences

Mammoth Biosciences , in collaboration with Charles Chiu, MD, Ph.D., is developing a rapid diagnostic test that could more quickly and widely monitor for the disease. The new test is a color-changing test strip that uses CRISPR to detect viral RNA and can be run in 30 minutes to an hour. “We’’ve been able to run this rapid test on both control samples and patient samples, and it appears to be working,” said Chiu. He hopes to optimize the test so that it can be run by anyone and deployed in low-resource areas.

  • BioMedomics 

At the point of care, the BioMedomics solution can deliver results within 15 minutes using just a blood sample. This blood sample can be used for rapid screening for carriers of the virus that are symptomatic or asymptomatic.

 

  • Bat-Call 

Bat-Call is a startup that focuses on respiratory and cardiovascular diagnosis through chest sound and machine learning classification. They developed a wide range of devices to use in different settings. Their latest invention is a vest that patients can wear to collect sound samples from various angles and which get wirelessly communicate to doctors for an accurate diagnosis.

  • BreathResearch

Their dual-sensor spirometer can measure and track lung flow volumes and lung sounds to provide screening and monitoring at a clinic or home via Telehealth. BreathResearch converts airwaves generated from a person’s breathing into sound waves, thereby allowing them to analyze one’s breath with acoustic analytics and artificial intelligence.

 

           5. Vaccines

Vaccines are a useful tool to gain immunity against infectious diseases quickly. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins.

However, innovative technologies like machine learning and computer simulations are gradually changing how scientists develop vaccines.

  • Codagenix

Codagenix Inc. utilizes a breakthrough platform technology called SAVE to construct live-attenuated viral vaccines against multiple targets.

This customization process uses software-based algorithms to re-code the genome of a target virus.

  • Meissa Vaccines

Meissa Vaccines is a pharmaceutical development startup focused on the in-licensing and advancement of vaccines for the respiratory syncytial virus

Meissa Vaccines is applying synthetic biology and genetic engineering to respiratory infections for the rational design of vaccine strains that solve challenging obstacles in modern vaccinology such as suboptimal immune responses, vaccine stability, and manufacturing.

 

         6. Ventilators

Ventilators are vital in cases of severe treatment of coronavirus infections. Coronavirus attacks people’s lungs and can cause especially people with pre-existing respiratory conditions severe shortness of breath, that require them to be put on a ventilator.

Ventilator machines mechanically move air in and out of a patient’s lungs, keeping them alive when the patient’s body can no longer do it on its own.

Here are a few startups taking on this challenge.

  • Onebreath Ventilators

OneBreath is a new business addressing one of the most challenging problems in critical care medicine: Delivering high precision, high-reliability mechanical ventilation at an affordable cost. Affordable mechanical ventilation is a significant unmet need globally, particularly in severely under-resourced developing markets, presenting a massive opportunity.

 

          7. Respiratory Protective Devices

Respiratory protective equipment is not something that people use very often. But it is an essential measure for protection to a person, particularly during a pandemic outbreak to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases.

  • Ao-Air 

Ao-Air utilizes fans to create a positive pressure that creates a clean air environment and allows a person to breathe freely, requiring no seal around the mouth and nose. This system enables clean, fresh air to comfortably escape the mask around the face creating a continuous, one-way outflow that keeps outside air out. This means unparalleled protection.

  • NasoFilters

Developed by a team from IIT Delhi, Nasofilters offer a respiratory nasal filter that sticks to your nose and prevents entry of harmful air pollutants.

Nasofilters are more comfortable to use than traditional anti-pollution masks. The product is small and stealth; it offers protection when wearing masks is not possible, such as in business meetings.

 

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