In 2014 Tanay Tandon, who was then only 17, founded a start-up to manufacture a smartphone device that would be capable of detecting malaria through a mere blood sample. The venture met failure as it was a difficult idea to manifest but Tandon never let go of the idea. A couple of years down the road Tandon founded Athelas in 2016, the company just came out with a dome based blood diagnostic device capable of detecting flu, bacterial infections and cancer in the comfort of your home.
The devise, a little shy of 10 inches, sets to work when you stick a slide into it with your blood sample. It processes the information received, like blood count and white blood count within 50 seconds. This is of particular help because an off blood count can indicate both infection and cancer.
Tandon and his co-founder Deepika Bodapati, have backgrounds in computer vision, machine learning and molecular imaging and were part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2016 class.
The main attraction to this devise is the ease and comfort it offers. The business modle focuses around oncologists who will be lending the device to their patience. This will shorten the span of time lost in fetching and crafting blood repots as the device corresponds to both android and iOS.
The device is FDA approved and the start-up has also published their tests against LabCorp venous counts and in bench studies at Stanford University.
Beyond the cancer and minor flu detection the devise may be able to predict cardiac arrests. Tendon is pinching this idea on the researches that show inflammatory markers inside the body will spike a couple days in advance in case of a cardiac arrest.
At the moment Athelas’ device is being marketed for in- home uses but they plan on extending its exposure to hospitals. They have made contracts with a number of drug companies, though they are not ready to announce the names yet they plan to become companion diagnostics for their partnered drugs
The startup has so far raised $3.7 million in seed, led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Initialized Capital, Joe Montana’s Liquid2, as well as a good roster of recognizable angels like Elad Gil.
The device is available at Athelas site for a subscription of $20 per month.