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SiPhox Health lands $27M for silicon photonics test kits

19 Jul 2023

MIT spin-out wins backing from Intel Capital and Khosla Ventures as it seeks FDA clearance for biomarker test platform.

SiPhox Health, a silicon photonics startup targeting healthcare applications, says it has now attracted $27 million in funding, following a recent series A round worth $17 million.

It adds that the series A round was led by Intel Capital, while Khosla Ventures and the renowned startup accelerator Y Combinator headed up the seed funding.

The Burlington, Massachusetts, firm already sells a mail-in blood collection kit providing measurement of the concentrations of 17 different biomarkers, with results that can be combined with physiological data from wearable devices like Fitbits.

Among those biomarkers are the stress response hormone cortisol, along with hemoglobin, Vitamin D, insulin, testosterone, cholesterol, and others.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-out now wants to use its investment to help work towards US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its “SiPhox Home” platform, saying that the silicon photonics technology could help to prevent and manage chronic diseases affecting millions of people globally.

“[SiPhox Home] will offer a broad menu of proteins and hormone tests from a finger-prick blood sample, with results in five minutes or less,” said the firm, whose chip-based approach is said to incorporate state-of-the-art integrated photonics, electronics and microfluidics.

AIM Photonics development
According to SiPhox its co-founders Diedrik Vermeulen and Michael Dubrovsky had a vision of using silicon photonics, thus far deployed almost entirely in optical communications, to put a laboratory-grade health testing device in every home to help monitor chronic diseases.

“Access to low-cost, convenient health testing can help prevent and manage these conditions, improving the lives of patients and enabling many healthcare innovations that are bottlenecked by existing testing approaches,” states the company.

CEO Vermuelen added: “At SiPhox Health, we are leveraging the trillions of dollars invested in the semiconductor industry to enable lab-quality results in a consumer-ready, user-friendly device.”

The firm currently offers a mail-in test service under a range of different subscription models, selling a single one-off test for $245, or an unlimited “membership” option at $95 per test.

Developed initially via the AIM Photonics initiative, the platform uses “basic biochemistry in conjunction with silicon photonics” to enable ubiquitous, low-cost measurement of biomarkers linked with inflammation, hormones, and metabolic or cardiovascular health.

Massive scaling
Dubrovsky, now the company’s “chief product officer”, said in a statement announcing the venture funding: “SiPhox’s goal is to create category-defining health tracking products starting with the SiPhox Home, which is a 100-fold improvement over existing blood diagnostics.

“Eventually, our technology will enable the ultimate wearable device for measuring proteins, hormones, and small molecules continuously.

“Every cell in the human body is a much more advanced sensor than anything on the market today, showing we are nowhere near the physical limits for performance and miniaturization in diagnostics.”

Intel Capital’s managing director Srini Ananth added: “The rapid growth in telehealth and home health sectors necessitates a new paradigm in diagnostics. SiPhox Health’s fast and accurate at-home testing is poised to change the patient journey for employers, pharma, insurers and health systems.

“Investments in silicon photonics over the past two decades for the datacom and telecom industry have enabled the massive scaling of the internet and cloud computing.

“This has set the stage for startups like SiPhox to apply silicon photonics technology to new frontiers. We are highly impressed with their technology and approach to tackling this opportunity.”

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