Upfront Diagnostics – which was Pockit Diagnostics until a month ago – has secured a seed fund round of £1.6m for its LVOne, the first rapid diagnostic test set that can identify a stroke within minutes.
The point-of-care fast blood check will help paramedics and other community health professionals to identify a stroke when people suffer symptoms or collapse in the community (ie not in a hospital). It can detect a stroke caused by a large vessel occlusion (LVO) within 15 minutes, allowing patients to be fast-tracked for treatment to a specialised stroke centre, where rapid imaging and surgical intervention can save lives and severity of disability.
The investment into the patented diagnostic test was led by APEX Ventures’ Medical Fund, following grant funding from SBRI Healthcare in partnership with Stroke Association, for the LVOne device.
The LVOne saves more than 90 minutes over the current clinical pathway, cutting billions of pounds in medical treatment costs, helps avoid disabilities, and saves lives. Globally, there are more than 20 million strokes annually, with LVOs accounting for 30 per cent of strokes but 95 per cent of disabilities and deaths.
In the UK, only 24 hospitals can properly identify and treat an LVO, and many of these operate only within working hours. The outcome is that the majority of LVO patients miss the treatment window.
The LVOne is designed to identify LVO strokes in the ambulance so that patients can be fast-tracked to a thrombectomy-specialised hospital for treatment. It was validated on 270 patients at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital in Newcastle.
Upfront Diagnostics, as Pockit, received support from Innovate UK, Newcastle University, Academic Health Science Network, National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), SBRI Healthcare, Stroke Association and NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Pooja Sikka, a GP in the UK and venture partner at APEX Ventures Medical Fund, said: “It can be a rare find in health tech to find an investment where you change outcomes so definitively, but this is one of them.”
The company was originally incorporated as Pockit Diagnostics. in 2017 by a group of University of Cambridge students – Gonzalo Ladreda, Dr Edoardo Gaude, Marcos Ladreda and Dr Joshua Bernstock – and has been backed by Cambridge Enterprise since 2019. Gonzalo noted this week that “the strategy has not changed”.
“With this significant funding, we are poised to transform stroke diagnosis worldwide and make a tangible impact on patient care.
“Our rapid blood test has the potential to revolutionise stroke management by providing paramedics and physicians with actionable insights in a matter of minutes, enabling them to make informed treatment decisions swiftly.
“This time-saving difference in early diagnosis could mean a 20 per cent reduction in disabilities from LVO strokes. For every 15 minutes of earlier treatment, there is a cost-saving of over $60k per patient. Ultimately faster diagnosis leads to better outcomes.”
He added: “The company is getting closer to generating revenue. We needed a bold new name to match its growth and values. We chose Upfront because it represents rapidness and transparency.”
Original article by Cambridge Independent