Upfront Diagnostics raises £1.6m for test that identifies a stroke within minutes
Upfront Diagnostics in Cambridge has raised £1.6 million seed funding after developing a world-first point-of-care rapid blood test to help identify a potentially lethal stroke within minutes.
Upfront's LVOne stroke care test is one of the biggest breakthroughs in stroke diagnosis for many decades, saving more than 1 hour and 30 minutes over the current clinical pathway and $60,000 per patient. The test was validated on patients with 95 per cent accuracy.
The investment was led by APEX Ventures’ Medical Fund, with support from SBRI Healthcare and Stroke Association.
The funding will be used to scale Upfront’s technology and its accuracy for identifying a large artery stroke. The company will also grow its team with some of the proceeds.
Strokes cause 375,000 deaths in European Union countries and by 2035 the number is expected to rise by a third. Globally, there are more than 20 million strokes annually. LVOs account for 30 per cent of the total but are responsible for 95 per cent of disabilities and deaths.
Traditional diagnostic methods often involve time-consuming and costly imaging techniques, causing delays in treatment initiation. By identifying Upfront Diagnostics biomarkers with a handheld blood test, paramedics are able to recognise LVO stroke cases within 15 minutes and take patients directly to a comprehensive stroke centre for treatment.
Gonzalo Ladreda, co-founder of Upfront Diagnostics, said: “With this significant funding, we are poised to transform stroke diagnosis worldwide and make a tangible impact on patient care.
“Our rapid blood test has the potential to revolutionise stroke management by providing paramedics and physicians with actionable insights in a matter of minutes, enabling them to make informed treatment decisions swiftly.”
“This time-saving difference in early diagnosis could mean a 20 per cent reduction in disabilities from LVO strokes. For every 15 minutes of earlier treatment, there is a cost-saving of over $60,000 per patient. Ultimately faster diagnosis leads to better outcomes for all.”
LVOne was validated on 270 patients at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital in Newcastle, UK, and it is designed to identify LVO strokes in the ambulance so that patients can be fast-tracked to a thrombectomy-specialised hospital for treatment.
This test has been developed with the support of Innovate UK, Newcastle University, Academic Health Science Network, National Institute for Health and Care Research, SBRI Healthcare, Stroke Association and NHS Foundation Trust.
Upfront Diagnostics (previously known as Pockit) was founded in 2017 by a group of University of Cambridge students – Gonzalo Ladreda, Dr Edoardo Gaude, Marcos Ladreda and Dr Joshua Bernstock – and has been backed by Cambridge Enterprise since 2019. Ladreda studied at Cambridge Judge Business School's entrepreneurship programme.