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February 2018

Finger prick test exhibits early detection of heart disease

More than 600,000 Canadians live with heart failure, and a further 50,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. But what if there was a way to test for heart failure before the disease has become advanced? LeNano Diagnostics is developing a groundbreaking product that could aid in the early detection of heart disease by testing a single drop of blood.

In collaboration with University of Waterloo-Mitacs researcher, Yael Zilberman-Simakov, LeNano's portable device tests blood for a specific biomarker, a type of protein, elevated by the onset of heart failure. “If a patient has a higher-than-usual concentration of the biomarker, they are at an increased risk of having heart failure,” says Yael. “Similar to how glucose levels should be monitored among diabetic patients, this type of protein needs to be checked every day.Compared to a lab test, personal test devices like LeNano's are faster, simpler, and more convenient.

“Current point-of-care tests used to detect the onset of heart failure typically use testing that can have complicated multi-step processes,” says LeNano CEO Charles Lu. “We’ve developed a device that is simple to use, has accurate and quantitative results, and can enable the decentralization of blood testing from medical labs to the patients themselves.”

Because LeNano is a small start-up with just eight people on staff, Yael is working on every aspect of the kit's development during her two-year Mitacs fellowship — from improving the device's sensor and overseeing its design, to testing blood samples and analyzing the data.

“I was drawn to this project because heart disease is the second highest cause of death in Canada. It's a big issue. I want my research to make a difference,” concludes Yael.

LeNano Diagnostics anticipates the testing kit will be on the market in two years.


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada for its support of the Elevate research fellowship in this story. Across Canada, the Elevate program also receives support from the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Quebec, and Research Manitoba.