Mississauga.com: Mississauga startup company finds new way to monitor heart disease

Mississauga startup company LeNano Diagnostics Inc. has helped design an effective and low-cost way to monitor for heart failure, developed by a Mitacs researcher at the University of Waterloo.

Patients simply prick their finger, rub the blood on a special strip, insert it into an electronic reader, and obtain a number within 20 minutes. An elevated reading means a higher concentration of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) in the blood, indicating a patient is at risk of heart failure.

“BNP is one of the most important cardiac biomarkers used by health professionals to diagnose heart failure,” said LeNano Diagnostics CEO Charles Lu, in a press release.

Current testing methods take longer, said Lu, with up to 24 hours for the most common central lab test which requires complex machinery operated by lab professionals. Current testing is also less accurate, Lu added, and provides a yes or no response to acknowledge the presence of BNP, as opposed to providing the actual concentration level.

“Patients with heart issues normally need to return to hospital or see their doctor for testing,” said Lu. “Our kit is simple to use and has accurate and quantitative results, enabling patients to monitor their own levels from home.”

Lu says the test is also Bluetooth-enabled, allowing results to be automatically communicated to a remote care provider. If levels are elevated, a physician can intervene to advise a patient to adjust their routine or call an ambulance, for example.

The technology is also designed for use by clinicians in an emergency department or other health care setting where fast and accurate assessment is critical.

“What’s unique about this breakthrough technology is that it uses low-cost electrical sensors as opposed to high-cost optical sensors,” said Yael Zilberman-Simakov, a researcher funded by Mitacs, a national not-for-profit research and training organization.

Mitacs has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 18 years and is funded by the federal and provincial governments as well as university and industry partners.

With pilot projects to begin shortly, Zilberman-Simakov said the projected commercial market size for the test kit is tremendous. Starting in Canada, before extending into the United States, Europe and Asia, she said the team is excited about the potential to offer a low-cost, easy-to-use finger prick test.

Approximately 600,000 Canadians have chronic heart failure, with 50,000 more cases diagnosed each year. Statistics from the Canadian Heart Failure Network reveal nearly one-quarter of these patients are likely to be readmitted to hospital within one year after diagnosis.

“Through our new testing system, we can alleviate some of the burden on the health-care system while at the same time providing a more comforting environment for patients to manage their own health condition,” Lu said. “This is a high-tech, low-cost and effective solution for affordable health care.”

By: Marta Marychuk