Much of disease detection goes like this: A physician directs a patient to get their labs done. Patient goes to get their blood drawn. After days or weeks, lab results arrive at the doctor’s office, when diagnosis and real treatment begins.
But what if doctors could detect a disease at their office? Seattle-based biotech startup Monod Bio announced on Monday it raised $25 million in seed funding led by Matrix Capital to help them accomplish that goal.
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The year-old startup’s flagship, LuCage platform, aims to use protein-based biosensors that can be used to diagnose a disease or monitor disease progression at point of care, shaving off time, money and energy spent on getting labs done. The engineered biosensor can be customized to detect a specific kind of molecule for a disease, virus or biomarker.
“We know these new biosensors can readily detect virus proteins or antibodies in simulated nasal fluid or donated serum,” said Monod Bio co-founder David Baker in a statement. “Our next goal is to ensure they can be used reliably in a diagnostic setting.”
The rise of diagnostics startups
Labs, historically, are not the revenue generators of the health care industry, and diagnostics has long been overlooked. But a sudden uptick in diagnosing the COVID-19 virus paved the way for technology that makes the process faster, more accurate and more cost-effective for patients, laboratories and insurance companies.
“Medical device (startups) may be getting a lot more money and power, but the diagnostic sector dictates more than 70% of the decision-making in terms of not only just diagnosis, but also treatment monitoring and prognosis,” said Dr. Shaun Yang, assistant medical director of clinical microbiology at UCLA Health.
Indeed, diagnostics is the backbone of patient health, and startups in the space saw breakthrough investment in 2021 with $5.7 billion in venture funding, per Crunchbase data. And despite the overall slowdown in venture funding in 2022, diagnostics startups have already raised $2.6 billion this year, exceeding the total funding amount in 2020.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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