ZiO Health seeks funding for subscription-based urine test that measures multiple health biomarkers.
Biomedical start-up ZiO Health is on a mission to change how the world conducts biomarker testing of chemical and biological substances. It is developing new devices and methods that it claims will enable “home diagnostics and personalised testing solutions” to empower people’s healthspan.
Longevity.Technology: The Longevity sector is growing with products and therapies that claim to deliver benefits to our healthspan and lifespan. But how do we know what is working and what isn’t? The only way is to look at the data, and companies like ZiO Health are working on solutions to help us do just that. With the company currently in the process of raising funding, we spoke to ZiO Health’s co-founder Neel Patel to find out more.
“I was previously working as a medical doctor and wanted to create something to improve the inefficiencies associated with testing processes,” he says. “In the UK, for example, if you’re an outpatient it takes about four or five days to receive blood test results. And in the hospital it takes roughly around four hours.”
Patel makes the case that there are multiple reasons why speeding-up blood testing, for example, would help in a hospital setting.
“When there is a serious issue such as a cardiac arrest, you can do bloods on the patient, stabilise them and wait for hours until the results come back to specifically know what to treat the patient with,” he says, which led him to the idea of tests that can be conducted “instantly” at the patient’s bedside. “I wanted to bring testing technology to the point of care. So you can treat them right away rather than having to spend four hours giving them medications that cover a broad range of issues.”
This idea drove Patel to look for people with the skills to make his vision a reality, and he co-founded ZiO Health in 2015 alongside biomedical engineer Rory Ryan and biosensors PhD Shaolin Liang. The company’s early years were backed and supported by an impressive roster of VC accelerators and incubators, including HAX, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and SOSV.
“Together we’ve developed a platform technology that essentially allows you to test parameters in different fluids, including non-bodily fluids,” he explains. “We have a therapeutic drug monitoring device which is being currently tested on patient blood samples in the US, and we have a health and wellness product in the UK, which is launching in the next couple of months.”
ZiO’s therapeutic drug monitoring product is based on using aptamers – essentially synthetic DNA – combined with an electrochemical based sensor to collect results.
“We didn’t go out trying to minimise hospital technology – it never even occurred to us to do that,” says Patel. “We started out to develop new technology, which can do it at the point of care. It’s an affordable product, and we can increase the range of tests quite rapidly because we just have to create new aptamers for specific targets and put them our platform. Aptamers only take around two to three months to develop, so we can rapidly increase our test range.”
Elosia, a weekly at-home urine testing kit and app, designed to give people personalised advice to improve their nutrition and lifestyle.
The wellness product Patel is referring to is called Elosia, a weekly at-home urine testing kit and app, designed to give people personalised advice to improve their nutrition and lifestyle. For £8 per month, subscribers receive a pack of four dry chemistry test strips each month and each week they urinate on a strip and scan it using the mobile app. Using colour analysis, the app immediately provides a readout on several health biomarkers, including ketone levels, hydration, nutrition, vitamin C and electrolytes, as well as an “overall wellness” indicator. Currently in beta testing, Elosia is expected to be ready to roll out to consumers in a “couple of months.”
“They instantly receive nutrition and health advice through the app to optimise those parameters and optimise their long term health by improving lifestyle choices and habits,” says Patel, pointing out the there is a lot of conflicting information out there for people who are trying to change their lifestyle or eat healthier. “The experts don’t know what really works in your body, so this is about giving people the opportunity to monitor some markers in their urine and optimise them for nutrition.”
Beyond the initial testing parameters, ZiO plans to expand the number of tests available over time, likely to be added as “premium options” to the standard subscription service.
“We are going to offer testing to monitor how certain supplements are making a difference on your body,” says Patel.
“For example, at the moment, people are taking turmeric, but they don’t actually know if it’s helping or not. We want to give them the ability to see that so that they continue good habits. And we can do that by testing certain parameters.”
While he feels that it’s a product that everyone could benefit from, Patel is focused on a core group of early customers.
“We are initially targeting individuals that are health conscious, specifically individuals who are already exercising and already look for the newest kind of health tech available for them to optimise their health,” he says, mentioning that the company is also looking at partnerships with gym providers as a potential channel to this audience.