In remote villages in Africa, clinics are struggling to deliver timely blood tests to help doctors determine the best way to treat HIV patients. But Bill Rodriguez, a Harvard-trained physician, through his new startup Daktari Diagnostics, is working on a handheld device that could someday perform blood tests for HIV patients virtually anywhere within a few minutes.
Cambridge, MA-based Daktari has generated buzz for its technology and social cause from a bevy of Boston-area backers that have invested a total of $2.8 million to complete its Series A round of financing, says Rodriguez, the co-founder and CEO of startup told me in his first in-depth interview about the company. (We wrote a short story last week that the one-year-old startup had raised $2.5 million, based on regulatory filings, but the firm now says it has raised more money than that.) The Boston-area investors in the startup—a few of which we reported last week—include Norwich Ventures, Partners Innovation Fund, Hub Angels, Mass Medical Angels, Launchpad Venture Group, and Boston Harbor Angels.
Daktari (a Swahili word for doctor or caregiver) has a goal with of producing both social and economic benefits. Rodriguez, who was previously chief medical officer of the William J. Clinton Foundation, said that millions of HIV-positive patients in the world aren’t receiving regular tests that measure the number of blood cells with CD4 markers on their surface—a key indicator of a patient’s immune system strength that can inform a doctor’s decisions on how aggressively to treat HIV. Part of the problem is that the blood tests to get CD4 counts typically must be performed by expensive, bulky instruments called flow cytometers. It’s also difficult to obtain and handle the blood samples because many HIV patients live in remote areas.. Daktari may have a solution: a handheld diagnostic device designed to for use in any setting, without having to manually transfer blood with pipettes or other manual steps.
Some serious players in diagnostics and innovation circles are affiliated with Daktari, including Stan … Next Page »
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