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Startup iLof earns five million.  It promises a small revolution in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, cancer and other diseases

Startup iLof earns five million. It promises a small revolution in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other diseases

When it comes to diagnosing a disease, analyzes make all the difference. iLof can confirm this. After securing $2 million in funding in 2020 (1.98 million euros), start The company, which owns the engineering arm in Porto and the UK commercial division, announced Thursday that it has raised another five million dollars (4.94 million euros) in investments.

This second investment round led by Faber has a fund owned by Microsoft, an investment by Osram and other companies that maintain the expectation of seeing iLof develop, in the next four years, a platform for diagnosing various diseases based on data on proteins, peptides, metabolites and other components of blood that are generally known In the name of analytics.

“In diagnosing Alzheimer’s, lumbar punctures still stand… and people don’t like to do it because they are afraid of spinal injuries. With the platform we develop, only blood is extracted, which is much easier and not so scary”

Luis Valente, CEO of iLof

“In diagnosing Alzheimer’s, lumbar punctures are still in place … and people do not like to do it because they are afraid of spinal injuries. With the platform we develop, only blood is extracted, which is much easier and not so frightening,” he explains to pass Luis Valenti, CEO of iLof.

It is no coincidence that Luis Valente gives the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease as an example. In addition to this neurodegenerative disease, iLof has already, at the end stage, conducted a study to diagnose ovarian cancer using blood samples. Before that, there was a successful test with Hospital de São João, also in Porto, which made it possible to predict, by the biological profile of the blood, which Covid-19 patients were most likely to be admitted to intensive care.

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“The idea is to create a platform that can diagnose different diseases and that can be used by different geographies and people, regardless of whether they are more or less fortunate (from a financial point of view),” promises Luis Valente.

Answers in three minutes

The platform is still in development, but among the founders of iLof there is an expectation that a future diagnostic tool will allow to get results after two or three minutes.

The company began to take shape After his investigations Paula Sampaio, from the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health, University of Porto (I3S), and Joanna Paiva in IInstitute of Systems, Computer Engineering, Technology and Science of the University of Porto (INESC TEC), About collecting data from blood components with optical sensors Capture different ranges of the light spectrum reflected from blood samples.

a This concept stems from the biological features found in the many blood sample banks that have been established over the years. In addition to being used as a reference for comparisons with samples collected on a daily basis, these profiles can be particularly important for determining the most appropriate treatments for each person and for each type of disease, given the respective blood sample.

In addition to taking into account specific biological features from blood, iLof intends to create “digital twins” of samples that retain the chemical, physical and biological characteristics associated with detected analyses. Unlike real blood samples, “digital twins” can be tested without limitation of times, and just as or more importantly, they can be analyzed by artificial intelligence algorithms, which compare the information collected from each patient’s blood with the files in the database. Provides a diagnosis in three minutes.

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“Currently, our goal is to integrate different optical sensors, in order to capture data from different sources and be able to produce a more complete biological profile,” adds the iLof CEO.

Electricity + internet

The future diagnostic equipment will start by requiring only electricity and the Internet to work. Later, the manager adds, “we will be able to create solutions that can work in contexts where there is no Internet.”

In parallel with the development of the platform, the company, which is incubated on the campus of the University of Porto School of Medicine, will maintain a short-term project with pharmaceutical companies that use this technology to produce new drugs. We know we are not alone. There are three or four other companies in the world that would like to do similar things, but we think we are in a good position (to achieve commercial success)”, confirms Luis Valente.

The $5 million that just came to the company will be invested in hiring 20 people. Which should bring the total number of iLof specialists to 40.

Luís Valente ensures that the choice will fall to the experienced scientists and engineers – and based on the first recorded offers of interest abroad, it will not be the salary, but the potential of the project which should act as a decoy.

We know we are not alone. There are three or four other companies in the world that would like to do similar things, but we think we are in a good position (to be commercially successful)”

In the long term, the idea is to create a scalable, non-invasive platform. If, in order to reach this goal, we have to buy or buy another business… I would say that these are viable hypotheses”, says Luis Valente.

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The market will be making a diagnosis soon as well.