Anitoa's ULS24 looks like a computer mouse linked to the cloud via a smartphone.
Startup Anitoa (Palo Alto, Calif.) described a low-cost, portable molecular diagnostics system it hopes to launch in December. The ULS24 aims to identify in less than 90 minutes a wide variety of diseases so they can be treated quickly.
“Molecular diagnostics equipment today is big and expensive, needs trained operators and can take days or weeks to identify a cancer or infectious disease,” said Zhiming Ding, chief executive of Anitoa. “We propose a system for doing diagnostics on site with a portable device that’s easy to operate and delivers actionable information for doctors,” he said.
Innovations inside the ULS24 include miniaturized microfluidics and a novel CMOS sensor. Today’s systems sometimes use large microfluidics modules and expensive charge-coupled devices or specialized vacuum tubes.
“It’s ironic we are still looking to replace a vacuum tube,” said Ding.
Anitoa’s CMOS chip is sensitive to very low light levels thanks to innovation in process technology as well as digital and analog circuitry. It uses a high sensitivity pixel, a novel DSP algorithm and analog noise analysis capabilities.
The ULS24 fits into a handheld device that has already been tested to identify ecoli and hepatitis-b. Ding hopes in future it could aldso be used to test for various strains of influenza such as Swine Flu and H1N1. “Flu is a seasonal disease that can infect up to 30% of a local population affected in a short time, so treatment within 24 hours is desired,” he said.
Surgeons could use the sensor on the tip of an endoscope to identify cancer tissues during minimally invasive surgery. “We also are exploring a high speed version of the chip to help with cancer cell sorting,” he said.
Initially, the products will target use in hospitals to quickly identify infectious diseases. “We are exploring this as a home diagnostic kit for consumers, working at first in China now because [regulators there are] more flexible about this being used as an advisory, not a diagnostic device” he said.
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The ULS24 aims to undercut the prices of large, batch-oriented systems.