Toronto-based Vital Biosciences has revealed its desktop blood-testing solution this week. It joins the wave of startups developing solutions to make diagnostics more accessible in the wake of the high-profile collapse in 2018 of Silicon Valley’s Theranos, which claimed to be developing superficially similar blood-testing technology.
According to Vital, it has raised $48 million in funding to date with backing from a number of notable leaders in tech, such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Vital is also backed by former Stripe head of issuing Lachy Groom, Northpond Ventures, Labcorp, Inovia Capital, and Route 66 Ventures, among others.
Vital is currently in late-stage development and will use the capital to support verification and validation activities as well as initiating clinical studies.
Vital offers a desktop-sized device that it says will be able to quickly process over 50 lab-grade results in primary care sites such as clinics, pharmacies, in-home care locations, and others.
Vital’s tests require more than a pinprick quantity of blood. A drop of blood—the amount from a typical finger prick—is roughly 35 microlitres, while Vital says its tests require 600 microlitres, or 0.6 mL.
According to Vital, it uses advancements in microfluidics, computer vision, biochemistry, and robotics to run three modalities of lab tests in parallel: hematology, clinical chemistry, and immunoassays.
Theranos claimed it could make blood testing less invasive and more accessible by only requiring a single drop of blood from a pinprick to conduct hundreds of lab-grade tests, also using a relatively small device. Its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was later convicted of fraud and conspiracy, and is currently serving an 11-year sentence.
Since the fall of Theranos, there has been a wave of other companies emerging in Canada to deliver something similar to what the infamous Silicon Valley startup promised.
In Sudbury, there is Verv, which secured $3.8 million CAD in seed funding last year to develop its at-home blood testing kit called Vi.
There are also startups outside of Canada that have commercialized their blood-testing kits, including Switzerland’s Bloom Diagnostics and 1Drop Diagnostics.
Vital is currently in late-stage development. The startup said the funding will be used to support further work on its solution as well as verification and validation activities, and initiating clinical studies.
Vital also said it is exploring relationships with industry, academia, and the laboratory medicine community for further performance evaluations and feedback.
Featured image courtesy of Vital Bio.