Colorectal cancer grows slowly and can be cured when detected early. Yet nearly 700,000 people die of the disease every year worldwide, mainly because it’s just so very unpleasant to provide a stool sample and undergo a screening colonoscopy.
Now there’s an early screening device coming to the market that doesn’t require you to do anything but sit on the toilet.
The OutSense IoT (Internet of Things) sensor clips onto the toilet and operates automatically, non-invasively, discreetly and without active user intervention.
Using multispectral optical sensors, an illumination module and an autonomous controller with a Wi-Fi receiver, it scans solid waste for even tiny traces of blood — a possible sign of disease that can be missed by the lab-based fecal immunological test (FIT).
The sensor “knows” who is sitting on the toilet based on the closest smartphone, as well as other ways to identify the user that the company cannot disclose at the moment.
Real-time analysis is conducted in the cloud using OutSense’s proprietary computer vision algorithms and AI. Notification of any abnormal results is sent immediately to the smartphone of the user or caregiver — no need to take a sample to the lab or wait for results.
“Our technology allows users and patients to have their excretions scanned automatically and immediately receive actionable insights based on the underlying chemical and physical composition,” says Yfat Scialom, CEO of OutSense.
“The solution provides new ways for early detection of potential severe gut problems, such as colorectal cancer, and for improving health and quality of care.”
Detects dehydration and UTIs
OutSense’s proprietary technology doesn’t only screen for colorectal cancer.
The technology also can detect dehydration, urinary tract infections, constipation, and diarrhea –all major causes of deterioration and hospitalization of the elderly.
A pilot is planned in Japan for detection of dehydration and urinary tract infections in the elderly, in cooperation with a multibillion-dollar Japanese corporation that specializes in remote elderly care technologies.
“Besides the medical impact, this solution also gives people new ways to improve their wellness, improve compliance to medications, and monitor diets and personal nutritional needs,” says Ishay Attar, founder of OutSense.
Clinical trials ahead of FDA application
Founded in 2016 by Attar, an Israeli biomedical engineer and serial medtech entrepreneur, OutSense started at the Incentive Incubator owned and operated by Peregrine Ventures in partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority.
Initial preclinical and clinical studies facilitated by a $2.5 million seed investment proved OutSense 90% accurate in detecting traces of blood in stool.
In November, the startup raised an additional $2.2 million in a Series A round from Peregrine Ventures to complete development and testing.
OutSense is completing its final design and expanding trials in Israel and abroad with an eye toward initiating the approval process with the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies next year.
“OutSense is looking for additional strategic partners and is planning another fundraising round next year that will enable the company to begin marketing efforts,” says Scialom.
She tells ISRAEL21c that users will pay “a relatively low one-time hardware fee plus subscription fees. The logic behind the subscription fee is that the entire analysis is done in a lab on the cloud. The data that is collected in the cloud will enable us to give personalized feedback.”
The clip-on works on batteries, but in the future could be integrated into the seat or bowl at the manufacturing stage.
OutSense also aims to create what it says would be the world’s first and largest database of human waste.
“This is especially crucial in colorectal cancer and other conditions which often go undiagnosed,” notes Scialom, who came aboard in February from patient-monitoring company EarlySense.
Eventually the technology could be used to detect the onset of an epidemic like Covid-19 as well as for personalized care, biofeedback, fine-tuning of drug dosage and even for personalized nutrition for weight control.
The OutSense team includes such experts as CSO Tali Treibitz, head of the Marine Imaging Lab at the University of Haifa; and CTO Yaara Kaap Barnea, who has a PhD in biology and specializes in biometric monitoring.
OutSense was accepted as an Intel Ingenuity Partner Program, received a Horizon 2020 grant and won second place in the 2018 China Heyuan International Mobile Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. The startup also got first prize from the California Israel Chamber of Commerce in 2017.
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