OptiCul Diagnostics Ltd.
this month submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of its first product, a device that tests for bacterial presence and promises to shorten hospital stays. Upon regulatory approval, which is expected this year, the Rockville biomedical startup with ties to Baltimore plans to market the device next year.
The startup is also seeking $5 million in funding from angel and venture capital investors this year, says CEO and Co-founder Israel Gannot. His wife Gallya Gannot is president and co-founder. Last year, the company raised $400,000 from angel investors.
The startup has eight full- and part-time employees. It plans to hire an additional eight employees, in engineering, marketing and sales, this year in preparation for selling the device in 2014.
Called an Optidet, the device OptiCul is developing can determine if a patient is carrying bacteria and if so which kind within three minutes.
“The device helps with diagnosis and allows you to treat patients quicker, resulting in shorter hospital stays,” says Gannot, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a professor at Tel Aviv University.
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development awarded grants totaling $300,000 for research, which OptiCul conducted with the University of Maryland microbiology and chemistry departments.
OptiCul Diagnostics was founded in Israel in 2008 with seed money from the Israeli government. In 2010, it opened its American headquarters and main laboratory to the William E. Hanna Jr. Innovation Center, an incubator in Montgomery County, where it is still located.
Gannot says the device, about the size of a small box, is designed to be placed in a hospital laboratory and used multiple times. The samples, about the size of business cards, are disposable. The device is priced at $10,000 and the samples at $3 each.
The initial marketing focus will be the I-95 corridor, Boston to Washington, D.C., where, by Gannot’s count, there are 2,500 hospitals with laboratory facilities.
Source: Israel Gannot, OptiCul Diagnostics Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash