UCI Beall Applied Innovation Screens UCI Life Science Startups Focused on COVID-19 Countermeasures

Past Tides
April 24, 2020 By Jackie Connor

UCI Beall Applied Innovation recently held a private virtual screening for invited accredited investors featuring two of UC Irvine’s life science-focused startup companies that are developing solutions to help solve medical issues related to COVID-19. Each of these startups feature UCI technology.

Rodney Brenneman is the CEO of PhageTech, Inc., a UCI startup company now based in Irvine that detects disease biomarkers in body fluids, including urine and blood. During the event, he discussed how their Virus BioResistor and intelligent point of care diagnostics technology can pivot to apply to testing patients for COVID-19 detection. The test would detect specific antibodies that neutralize the COVID-19 virus, which would offer potential for a higher quality vaccine.

“The single best thing would be knowing if a person has antibodies that can neutralize the virus versus just antibodies and also knowing the level of those antibodies,” said Greg Weiss, UCI professor of Organic Chemistry and co-founder of PhageTech, Inc. “When we started looking at the technologies coming through, none of them were addressing that question. Our lab is currently operating at full speed ahead to try to figure out what these antibodies look like. We are using that information to drive diagnostics that will drive development of better vaccines, as well.”

The startup is seeking funding to perform clinical validation with their technology.

Francis Duhay, M.D., MBA, CEO and co-founder of Makani Science, a UCI startup company that uses a wireless sensor to noninvasively monitor breathing rate and volume during all medical or dental procedures that require sedation, discussed how their wearable sensor could provide those who have coronavirus infection an advantage in detecting early signs of respiratory distress.

“There is a need for a respiratory monitor that measures more than simply one’s breathing rate,” said Dr. Duhay. “Our wearable and Bluetooth-enabled sensor monitors the rate and depth of breathing. This is a huge market with high growth potential not only for people afflicted with COVID, but also those with asthma, chronic lung disease and sleep apnea.”

The startup is raising funding to complete ongoing product development by June 2020, with the goal of product readiness as well as an FDA 510(k) clearance by 2021.

Find out more information about Applied Innovation’s funding resources.

*Main graphic: Amy Vong, UCI Beall Applied Innovation

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