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Sudbury firm thinks big with its blood-lab-in-a-smartphone tech

Whether for those with chronic health conditions or those who are just curious, Verv Technologies’ home blood-testing device does more than check blood sugar, it aims to be a high-quality blood chemistry analyser to track everything from cholesterol to hormone levels

A Sudbury-based medical biotechnology company working at the Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) is developing a home blood-testing kit that will enable people to monitor several health indicators with the results appearing on your smartphone.

The company, Verv Technologies, has created the Verv Vi — a device described as "a consumer-oriented, affordable, high-quality blood chemistry analyser with disposable tests for home use, that will help individuals measure a wide range of analytes (i.e. cholesterol, vitamin levels, hormones)." 

The new device will let people do a home blood test with the results showing up on their smartphone in about 15 minutes.

The company this week revealed it has won project funding from a British firm that will enable Verv toward commercializing their device. 

Dr. Victoria Coleman, Verv's Vice President of Business Development, said the new project money is coming from Randox Laboratories in the UK, a globally recognized biotechnology and laboratory services leader.

"The investment will help to accelerate the completion of commercial products, expand the suite of tests for consumers, enhance our exceptional team, and complete regulatory processes over the next year," Coleman said. She said Randox has the experience in test development and laboratory diagnostics that makes them the perfect fit for Verv.

Coleman added that there is a market and a demand for the product from people who want better ways of monitoring their health. 

"Our consumer surveys indicate 66 per cent of the population want to test their blood in their home."

She said consumers are already able to use technology to monitor such things as their blood pressure, their heart rate and even O2 saturation. The Verv device will take that further, Coleman said.

"Many people have chronic health challenges they would like to keep an eye on. Providing an accurate affordable method for consumers to track their health in their home has never been more important as we have seen over the past few years," Coleman said. 

The company website describes that with a finger prick of blood, Verv’s patent pending blood plasma separator provides the appropriate blood sample for analysis. 

"Using advanced technology and your smartphone, results are at your fingertips within 15 minutes. Fast, accurate, inexpensive all within the comfort of your own home. Take control of your health, anyone, anywhere, anytime," said the website

This also eliminates the need for needles, travel time for testing, testing appointments and wait time for results, said the website. 

Coleman said the project began in Sudbury. Verv was founded in 2012. The company is currently at the HSNRI facility on Walford Road in Sudbury.

"Verv had four founding members that have worked together with the idea that if one can test blood glucose and make a health decision based on those results, why not do this for other biomarkers such as cholesterol, or vitamin-D for example? Jeff Sutton, one of the founders and president of Verv, along with his team have worked through different technical options that brought the team to the place it is today," Coleman said.

She added that research and development (R&D) is something that can take time to get the right results.

"Most all of the R&D has occurred right in Sudbury. We have some R&D collaboration in our test assay development with academic institutions such as McMaster University but again most all Verv’s development has occurred in Sudbury." 

Coleman added that with the new investment from Randox and further testing, the plan is to have production units next year.

From here we continue device optimization and further test assay development. Our goal will be  to launch with a suite of tests available that are of interest to consumers. We expect to have  verification and validation on a small batch production of units by the end of 2023. 

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for Sudbury.com.


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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