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Biomeme’s smartphone lab to diagnose STDs sets sights on Central America

When was the last time you heard a medical device company say the first market it’s pursuing is Central America? But that’s the plan for Biomeme’s Smartphone-enabled lab. Its mobile qPCR thermocycler is designed to amplify trace amounts of DNA to identify particular strains of pathogens by their DNA signature. It’s also designed to do […]

When was the last time you heard a medical device company say the first market it’s pursuing is Central America? But that’s the plan for Biomeme’s Smartphone-enabled lab. Its mobile qPCR thermocycler is designed to amplify trace amounts of DNA to identify particular strains of pathogens by their DNA signature. It’s also designed to do real-time disease tracking at the point of care.

Biomeme co-founder Max Perelman works on the business development side of the business. He spoke to MedCity News at Penn Medicine’s Entrepreneur Forum this week where his company walked away with the crowd favorite award. Although molecular diagnostic devices tend to be expensive, Biomeme figured out how to build one that uses a smartphone and sells for roughly $1,000. The  lead indication is detecting sexually transmitted diseases.

Why focus on the second world countries first? Perelman said the opportunities abound particularly because these point of care testing devices that can be used by clinics may be seen as more useful and less costly than setting up a centralized network of testing facilities.

Testing for STDs tends to be more time sensitive, says Perelman. It has a wide market and it’s potentially something point of care providers would need. It’s also a big public health issue. In addition to STD testing, Perelman said it’s developing tests for dengue fever, yellow fever, and malaria, among others.

It is also pursuing the regulatory path in the U.S. with a study underway at Drexel University School of Medicine focusing on gonorrhea with another one planned at the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn.

One of the company’s selling points is ease of use. YouTube videos of device demos star Perelman’s 7 year-old daughter. Users do some test prep and then load blood urine or saliva sample into the machine and wait for results. “It will never be more difficult to use than my daughter can handle,” Perelman emphasized.

One of the interesting things about the company is how wide the applications are for healthcare sectors and beyond. It currently has 10 partnerships with groups in agriculture, environmental monitoring , along with military uses

The DreamIt Health accelerator graduate has raised more than $1 million through seed funding from investors, including Pennsylvania’s economic development arm Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.