Case study

Spin-out gets set to launch finger-prick diagnosis for anaemia

Pioneering image analysis technology allows Entia's hand-held blood test kit to be used at home or in remote places around the world.

Hand holding Aptus device with blood test report on screen.

Entia's Aptus™ analyser performs a blood count reading in 60 seconds.

Entia: pioneering blood tests outside of the laboratory

A London-based healthtech start-up is getting ready to launch a hand-held monitor which can carry out a simple test for anaemia at home or even in the African bush.

The Aptus™ handheld blood cell analyser, developed by Entia with support from Innovate UK, needs only a single drop of blood from a finger prick.

The monitoring solution could also help people living with blood cancers and polycythaemia to treat and manage their illness.

Better access to blood testing

Entia was spun out from Imperial College London two years ago by CEO Toby Basey-Fisher and his co-founder and COO, Millie Clive-Smith. Toby holds a PhD in biomedical physics and is an Enterprise Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, while Millie has a background in innovation design engineering. Toby explained:

What we were trying to achieve was improved access to blood tests. The technologies we’ve been developing are straightforward, simple finger prick tests that take one drop of blood and allow the individual to have the power of a laboratory test in the palm of their hand.

Anaemia is a globally endemic condition that affects 1.8 billion people worldwide. Our devices are so simple that while they can be used in the home they can also be used in resource-limited environments where labs aren’t available.

Venture capital financing

After winning a £99,000 Smart award from Innovate UK to work up their idea, they were awarded a further £139,000 through the Biomedical Catalyst to test their technology’s potential for monitoring cancer patients’ response to chemotherapy.

That support from Innovate UK also gave Entia the credibility to secure £1 million in private funding and, more recently, venture capital financing led by Sussex Place Ventures.

The company’s technology incorporates a range of optical and image analysis techniques to perform a blood count from a pinprick within 60 seconds. In a number of the company’s products, the reading is sent to the cloud so it can be directly uploaded into patient records and accessed by physicians.

Entia has also been awarded further funding through a Biomedical Catalyst Early Stage award for a follow-on project with The Royal Marsden Hospital, University of Oxford and Imperial College Health Partners to help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to receive more personalised treatment. Millie added:

We want to improve people’s quality of life – and save lives.

Tailored mentoring and support

As they celebrated the successful completion of their latest project, Entia added to their collection of industry and innovation awards by winning a place on Microsoft’s London Accelerator programme.

During their four-month residency in the London Accelerator, they have had free use of office space, tailored mentoring and support and also workshops on market strategy, fundraising, finance, intellectual property law and marketing.

As well as adding ex-Smith&Nephew CEO and Chairman John Robinson CBE to their board, Entia has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the AXA Health Tech and You awards for its approach to personalised delivery of chemotherapy.

Published 21 April 2017