Written by Kevin Volz.
At most hospitals, getting basic blood test results require running a full vial of a patient’s blood to a central lab for analysis. The process usually takes anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Apollo Medical Devices is developing a rapid blood testing technology that can return the same results at the patient’s bedside in five minutes, and with just a single drop of blood. This allows doctors to treat patients faster and provide them with a more comfortable experience.
“Our prototype system is like a diabetic test strip,” said Patrick Leimkuehler, CEO of Apollo Medical Devices. “It’s a handheld unit that’s slightly thicker than an iPhone, with a touchscreen and a combination of disposable cartridges and reusable components.”
The prototypes from Apollo Medical Devices currently analyze everything from a patient’s blood glucose levels to their electrolyte levels. This is also known as a basic metabolic panel, which most patients receive during a standard physical exam. The company hopes to expand its technology to over 25 additional tests.
Apollo Medical Devices was founded by CTO Punkaj Ahuja while he was a graduate student in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. After developing the blood analysis technology, Ahuja decided to commercialize his company and brought Leimkuehler on board to refine the company’s business plan.
In January 2015, Apollo Medical Devices was awarded a $100,000 Technology Validation and Start-Up Fund (TVSF) grant from Ohio Third Frontier. This allowed the company to accelerate the development of its first prototype and has led to follow-on funding from additional Ohio Third Frontier partners including JumpStart, the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) and MAGNET. In total, the company has raised more than $700,000 in funding in less than a year.
Leimkuehler and Ahuja are in the final stages of refining the design of their handheld prototype and determining the manufacturing process of the cartridges needed for blood analysis.
“We hope to have our prototype done by the end of 2015,” said Leimkuehler. “Then we need to get it in the hands of users for feedback. We’ll continue product development throughout the first half of 2016 and start clinical trials in late summer before submitting for FDA approval.”
Apollo Medical Devices has received a great deal of support from the Cleveland area’s prestigious hospitals and universities. The company has a collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic that allows them to receive blood samples from the hospital for analysis during early testing. They also work closely with Case Western Reserve University, which has helped connect Ahuja and Leimkuehler to investors and networking events in northeast Ohio.
“Cleveland’s biggest asset to an entrepreneur is that there is always someone just a phone call away who’s been in your shoes,” said Leimkuehler. “It’s so important to leverage other people’s expertise and experience. This area holds so much promise and the type of assistance that is available from the state is turning that promise into a reality.”