When we were compiling this year’s crop of Fierce 15 companies, some clear themes stood out. Genomics. Bioelectronics. Artificial intelligence. But while multiple companies are working to improve the use of these technologies, there runs a deeper current: making care more accessible.
For example, Allurion Technologies is developing a weight-loss balloon that is swallowed in an outpatient procedure and is naturally passed from the body at the end of the treatment period.
While commercially available balloons are effective, the company’s founders said, they are delivered and removed via endoscope. By removing the need for endoscopy and a specially trained physician to perform it, Allurion aims not only to slash the cost and the time required for the treatment, but also to enable more doctors to offer weight-loss balloons.
In a similar tack, Livongo based its diabetes management program on the glucose meter, not the most cutting-edge of diabetes technology, but a tool that most patients use to monitor their disease.
Meanwhile, Cambridge Medical Robotics is reimagining minimally invasive robotic surgery. Rather than selling expensive systems, it is working on offering modular robotic arms as a service. A hospital signs on to perform a certain number of operations over a period of time. And the company will handle the rest—from the technology and surgeon training to assistance and instrumentation.
And Toronto-based Analytics 4 Life is working on a quicker test for coronary artery disease that does not require the administration of radioactive contrast dyes or the exercising of a damaged heart. The device, dubbed CorVista, is designed for use in any physician’s exam room or the emergency room.
The list also includes Saluda Medical and Axonics, which are both trying to improve on current approaches to neuromodulation, and 7SBio and Velano Vascular, both of which chose to focus on upgrading blood collection methods, bettering the hospital experience for both patients and practitioners.
As for Gecko Biomedical, the Paris-based startup hit the ground running with a surgical sealant. But it is eyeing all sorts of indications for its proprietary polymer platform, from adhesives and plugs to 3D-printed devices and scaffolds for tissue regeneration.
We would like to thank everyone who submitted nominations. We received a remarkable number of them this year. Read on to find out what drives this year’s Fierce 15 companies and what they are working on. As always, let us know what you think, and continue to flag any prospects worthy of watching over the coming year and beyond.
Analytics 4 Life
CEO: Don Crawford
Starting with coronary artery disease (CAD), Analytics 4 Life is combining artificial intelligence and mathematical modeling to accelerate the accurate diagnosis of disease and connect patients to the appropriate treatments more quickly.
Analytics 4 Life is seeking de novo clearance from the FDA for its CorVista platform for the detection of CAD. Based on the company’s Phase Space Tomography technology, CorVista measures and mathematically models signals emitted by the heart to identify areas of ischemia, or where blood flow is blocked.
“This allows us to produce a diagnostic test that a physician can use to identify coronary artery disease without the need for radiation or to exercise a distressed heart,” said CEO Don Crawford.
What makes Analytics 4 Life fierce
CAD, caused by plaque buildup in the coronary arteries, is the most common form of heart disease in the U.S. Physicians look for it with a battery of tests, from stress testing—which requires the patient to exercise—and electrocardiograms to coronary angiography, which involves injecting the patient with a contrast dye.
Existing diagnostic methods are very capital-intensive, Crawford said: “The patient has to travel because only major centers can afford it.” So Analytics 4 Life is working to create a piece of equipment that can be used in any physician’s exam room, emergency room, or hospital room, he said.
A patient comes in and undergoes a noninvasive CorVista scan, which takes under three minutes. The technology scans for six different signals, collecting millions of data points.
“The heart produces energy, and the healthy heart does so in a very predictable way,” said Crawford. “Beat after beat, energy moves through the heart in a very predictable fashion that can be seen by our sensors.”
The patient’s scan is then sent to the cloud, where the company’s software analyzes it, returning a three-dimensional picture of the heart, with areas of ischemia highlighted. The physician may then use this model to guide treatment decisions.
In addition to removing the invasive, radioactive and stressful aspects of CAD diagnostics, the tech could also cut the time it takes to produce a diagnosis, getting patients the correct treatment more quickly.
What to look for
In September, the company bagged $25 million in its series B round, to bring its CorVista system through the final stage of clinical testing. It reported early data from its learning database at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference.
Analytics 4 Life expects to complete enrollment for its 3,000-patient clinical trial by the end of the year. It will use the results from this trial to apply for de novo clearance from the FDA in the first half of 2018. Pending approval, the company plans to roll the device out in the second half of next year.