In a significant development for the healthcare industry, a British startup has successfully secured £1.6m in seed funding to develop a handheld blood test device that can rapidly diagnose strokes. Upfront Diagnostics, formerly known as Pockit, aims to transform stroke diagnosis worldwide by providing actionable insights to healthcare professionals in a matter of minutes. This breakthrough technology has the potential to revolutionize stroke management and significantly impact patient care.

Upfront Diagnostics’ innovative device, known as the “LVOne,” is designed to identify biomarkers that indicate a patient is experiencing a large vessel occlusion (LVO) stroke. By taking a small blood sample, the LVOne can provide a diagnosis in less than 15 minutes, saving valuable time compared to current methods that rely on physical tests and brain scans. This accelerated diagnosis allows for prompt treatment, reducing the risk of death or disability associated with strokes.

The seed funding round, led by Apex Ventures’ medical fund, signifies a major milestone for Upfront Diagnostics. Apex Ventures, a deep tech-focused VC firm, recognizes the potential impact of this handheld blood test device on the healthcare industry. Additionally, Upfront Diagnostics has received grant funding from SBRI Healthcare in partnership with the Stroke Association, further validating the importance and potential of their technology.

To ensure the effectiveness and accuracy of their device, Upfront Diagnostics conducted validation tests on 270 patients at the Royal Infirmary Hospital in Newcastle. Although the device has not yet received clinical approval, the company plans to utilize the proceeds from the funding round to scale the technology and meet regulatory requirements. Upfront Diagnostics aims to obtain a UK Conformity Assessed checkmark, signifying compliance with British legislation, by the end of 2023. They also have ambitions to achieve CE marking, the EU equivalent, by mid-2025.

Upfront Diagnostics is focusing its efforts on early stroke diagnosis, as it has the potential to reduce disabilities resulting from LVO strokes by up to 20%. Time is of the essence when treating strokes, as there is a six-hour optimal window for doctors to manually remove large clots from the brain. The LVOne device can significantly increase the rate of patients treated within this critical timeframe, improving outcomes and saving lives.

While the primary focus of Upfront Diagnostics is stroke diagnosis, there is potential for their technology to be applicable to other medical conditions. The company has indicated that their handheld device could potentially be used for diagnosing concussions or Alzheimer’s disease. This versatility highlights the broader impact and potential of their innovative approach to point-of-care testing.

Upfront Diagnostics, founded in 2017 by a group of Cambridge students, has come a long way in a relatively short time. With the support of Cambridge Enterprise, an arm of the University of Cambridge that helps academics commercialize their ideas, the startup has received £75,000 in funding. While their most recent Companies House filings show net liabilities, Upfront Diagnostics remains determined to bring their groundbreaking technology to market.

The potential impact of Upfront Diagnostics’ rapid blood test device extends beyond individual patient care. Dr. Pooja Sikka, a general practitioner in the UK and venture partner at APEX Ventures Medical Fund, emphasizes the broader benefits of effective point-of-care testing. By improving diagnostics and optimizing care pathways for strokes, the healthcare workforce and social care system can experience positive transformations. Stroke, a preventable disease that is unfortunately on the rise, requires innovative solutions to address the growing need for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.

First reported on UK Tech News

Originally published on ReadWrite.