Blood-Testing Device to Catch Disease Early
Delee has created the CytoCatch, a blood-testing device for the early diagnosis of cancer and treatment monitoring.
This device isolates what are called circulating tumor cells, or “CTCs,” from the blood. According to Grand View Research, by 2027, the global market for analyzing CTCs is projected to surpass $18 billion.
Unlike other devices, CytoCatch possesses the required sensitivity and specificity needed to analyze the CTC’s genetic features and biomarkers. This facilitates the early detection of cancer and enables physicians to create personalized treatments.
Delee previously completed an equity crowdfunding round in early 2020. At the time, then company had received more than $1.3 million in funding from investors including Y Combinator and StartX, and had clinically validated a prototype of its CytoCatch device.
Since its crowdfunding round, Delee has built a commercial version of its device, collaborated with medical institutions to start additional clinical validation studies, and expanded its team. The company is seeking additional capital in order to launch its device and receive FDA clearance in 2022.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2040, an estimated 30 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. More than 16 million of them will die of the disease.
One of the main reasons cancer has such a high mortality rate is the lack of clinical tests with sufficient ability to enable a timely diagnosis of the illness. Furthermore, a scarcity of technological resources that provide effective monitoring of treatments significantly reduces patients’ chances at survival.
However, the isolation of CTCs from the blood is a way to address these issues.
For most types of cancer, when a person develops a tumor, even if it hasn’t spread yet, it releases malignant cells into the bloodstream. These are the CTCs that play a key role in establishing metastasis in other organs.
Recently, it’s been demonstrated that CTCs can be isolated from the blood, allowing for their analysis. However, isolating these cells is a technical challenge due to their rareness.
For example, there are more than 37 billion cells in just 7 ml of blood. But often, just one of them might be a tumor cell. Finding this single cell is the equivalent of identifying one person within the population of five Earths.
Current cell-sorting methods (including flow cytometry and density gradient centrifugation) don’t have sufficient sensitivity and specificity to isolate CTCs. These methods would need to be 100x more sensitive to be effective.
Even the CellSearch system, considered the “gold standard” when it comes to CTC technologies, relies on the existence of specific proteins on the cell membrane to capture CTCs. However, cancer cells often undergo a process where these proteins are downregulated, limiting the capture of them.
Delee’s technology, in contrast, isolates CTCs regardless of the level of proteins expressed on their membranes. This enables its device to capture cells other technologies can’t.
Here’s how its CytoCatch system works:
Once a blood sample has been extracted using conventional methods, CytoCatch isolates the CTCs by implementing micro manipulation techniques.
Next, the captured CTC cells are stained with fluorescent antibodies in order to distinguish them from other components of the blood sample.
From there, the system’s integrated imaging system, which possesses Artificial Intelligence-based algorithms, analyses the malignant cells based on their morphology.
Finally, a report is drafted with the results and given to the patient’s physician.
The bottom line is that Delee’s CytoCatch system:
• Allows for the personalization and optimization of cancer treatments.
• Reduces costs and side effects associated with inefficient treatments.
• And increases the patient’s chances of defeating the disease.
Delee’s technology can be used for a variety of cancer types, including prostate, lung, colorectal, breast, cervical, melanoma, and ovarian.
Prior to acquiring FDA clearance, Delee aims to commercialize the CytoCatch as a research tool, and sell to pharmaceutical companies and research centers. The company has already received $2.5 million worth of pre-orders.
Once its technology is cleared by the FDA, it will be marketed as an in vitro diagnostic medical device for hospitals and laboratories. The company will implement a razor/razor blades business model, and sell the device (razor) followed by necessary reagents and consumables to perform each test (razor blades).
Juan has spent more than 10 years developing medical devices and biosensors, and is the co-creator of the CytoCatch device.
Before Delee, he co-founded SEMKA Biomedical Technologies, a biotech research company, during which time he also collaborated with the Biomedical Engineering Group at Monterrey Institute of Technology.
He spent two years before that as a research assistant at Monterrey Institute in the school’s Sensors and Devices Research Group, and began his career as a clinical engineer with the State of Mexico’s Health Services Division.
Juan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Electronic Engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
Alejandro has extensive experience developing medical devices.
During his career, he has created a microfluidic device for the isolation of rare cell subpopulations, methods for embedding metal electrodes into thermoplastics, and an automated imaging system to study cellular properties.
Along with Juan, he co-created the CytoCatch system, and worked for Zen Fluidics, a medical company developing microfluidic automation systems for applications in the life sciences, biotech, and chemistry markets.
Prior to starting Delee, Liza was co-founder & CEO of Zen Fluidics.
Before that, she was a counselor of microbusiness at the Business Incubator program at the Monterrey Institute of Technology, located in Monterrey, Mexico.
In October 2019, Liza was acknowledged as one of the “50 Most Relevant People” transforming Mexico, and was invited to speak on various international panels regarding cancer research and entrepreneurship.
She studied International Business at the University of California, Berkeley and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
Joost was Senior Vice President of the Central and Eastern European Divisions of Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG), and before that was CEO and General Manager of Philips Electronics’ Healthcare & Consumer Lifestyle Division.
Throughout his career, he has represented the medical imaging and healthcare industries at the European Trade Association, and earned a Master’s degree in Business Economics at the University of Groningen. He also completed an Executive Program in Strategy and Organization at Stanford Business School.
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