Founded by Tanay Tandon when he was just 17, the three-year-old startup was initially intended to detect malaria via blood samples. But now, Tandon has expanded Athelas’ capabilities. The cylindrical device (which looks a bit like an Amazon Echo) allows you to insert a slide with a few drops of your blood, and then determines whether your white blood cell count is abnormal. Your results are delivered to you via a companion app, and should be viewable within 60 seconds.
Powered by computer imaging and developed in conjunction with oncologists (who are apparently already lending these devices to their patients), Athelas wants to avoid the nightmare that was the Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos debacle. Of course, it helps that the Athelas team is rife with medical expertise, and already enjoys clinical validation of its results. Moreover, Athelas is FDA-approved, and can be used for imaging diagnostics.
As it stands, the firm expects the device to be used mainly at home, but there are plans for hospitals to take advantage of the device for triage purposes. And apparently, there are partnerships with pharmaceutical companies brewing as well.
“One of our goals is to become a companion diagnostic for a lot of these interesting drugs,” Tandon told TechCrunch.
If you’re interested in trying out an Athelas for yourself, you can either talk to a doctor about potentially acquiring a rental unit, or you can buy an Athelas straight from the the company’s website. For $20 a month, you’ll be able to take 10 tests and hopefully “flag bacterial infections, monitor Neutropenia, and generate White Blood Cell markers.” The device is set to begin shipping on September 28, 2017, and the company promises not to charge customers until they receive their Athelas.
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