Sight Diagnostics speeds up expansion of blood analyzer business

August 11, 2020 07:57
Israel-based medical devices startup Sight Diagnostics CEO and co-founder Yossi Pollak said the fresh capital will help accelerate the global expansion of its OLO blood analyzer. Photo: Sight Diagnostics.

Israel-based medical devices startup Sight Diagnostics announced it has completed its Series D round raising US$71 million to accelerate the global expansion of its OLO blood analyzer.

The investment from Koch Disruptive Technologies, Longliv Ventures, a member of the CK Hutchison Holdings (00001), and global investment crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, will fuel Sight’s technology development in automated identification and detection of diseases, as well as biomarkers indicating COVID-19 severity, according to Sight.

In February last year, venture capital firm Longliv Ventures, under the multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Group backed by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, also led Sight’s US$27.8 million Series C round.

With its computer vision and artificial intelligence capabilities, Sight’s flagship OLO blood analyzer automates the identification and quantification of different blood cell types and anomalies.

By turning two drops of blood drawn from the patient into high resolution images for analysis by proprietary machine learning algorithms, Sight OLO delivers lab-grade complete blood count (CBC) results by measuring 19 different blood parameters in minutes, from either a fingerstick or a venous sample.

Unlike Theranos — the defunct Palo Alto startup that claimed it could conduct advanced blood tests from a single drop of blood — Sight’s technology has been clinically tested and validated by healthcare institutions in the United States, as the firm received US FDA 510(k) clearance in late 2019.

“We've developed a novel and patented technology to digitize blood - to turn blood into images. Sight OLO uses this technology to perform a CBC - the most commonly ordered blood test - in minutes,” said Sight CEO and co-founder Yossi Pollak.

“In most cases, we're the most cost-effective solution for CBC testing,” Pollak highlighted the compelling economic logic for the OLO, which offers better performance with less blood required and delivering faster results at a lower price that will enable doctors’ offices and smaller clinics to do their own CBC tests, instead of outsourcing them to testing firms or centralized testing labs in hospitals.

The startup has increased its manufacturing capacity by 5 times in the last six months, according to Pollak. With the fresh capital, Pollak said he plans to open another manufacturing facility in Israel later this year. They are also looking for additional distributors in key markets across the world, as they have already secured distribution partners in Singapore and Thailand, he added.

Sight is also involved in developing technologies for automated detection of diseases including COVID-19. The startup has partnered with several major hospitals and research organizations to spot distinct biomarkers in COVID-19 patients.

“An early indicator such as a suggestive lymphopenia profile could prove valuable in addition to other criteria for managing the infection control procedures to make rapid decisions about who to prioritize or isolate for further assessment,” said Pollak.

Sight is also leveraging its machine vision technology to scan the blood of COVID-positive patients for anomalies. “We are combining this with clinical data to hopefully advance research in determining what blood factors affect the severity of the disease,” said Pollak. “While it's still too early for any definitive findings, we are hoping to share results in the near future.”

“COVID-19 has exacerbated the importance of decentralized healthcare and the need for bringing blood testing outside of the hospital,” said Pollak, and they are seeing the demand for Sight OLO from all around the world.

Sight has deployed its Sight OLO analyzer in frontline healthcare facilities outside of the US fighting COVID-19, and it has secured contractual agreements with healthcare providers and distribution partners to deploy more than 1,000 analyzers over the coming years. The fresh capital will enable Sight to substantially expand its US footprint, as well as the global expansion of its commercial operations.

“Sight has already secured contractual agreements in Asia and will continue to leverage CK Hutchison's strong relationships with potential customers as we accelerate commercialization in this market,” Pollak told EJ Insight.

Receiving a follow-on investment from CK Hutchison’s LongLiv Ventures, Pollak said LongLiv Ventures can add significant value beyond financial support, and the two companies have worked closely together to bring fast, accurate, pain-free blood testing closer to patients.

“We knew CK Hutchison Holdings Group - which operates a network of over 15,700 retail stores in 22 countries worldwide - could contribute significantly to Sight's global growth, and we're thrilled to continue working together through this next phase of growth and beyond.”

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EJ Insight writer