Philips partners with San Diego startup to develop hand-held concussion blood test

Minicare system--Courtesy of Philips

Royal Philips ($PHG) has struck a deal with Banyan Biomarkers to develop and sell a new hand-held blood test that can be used to detect mild traumatic brain injury, more commonly known as concussion, at the point of care.

It will be based on a combination of Philips' Minicare I-20 system, its existing hand-held diagnostic analyzer with single-use, disposable cartridges for each specific test, and two concussion protein biomarkers that Banyan has identified as appearing quickly in the bloodstream of patients after injury.

This is just the latest in a string of hand-held and point-of-care focused deals for Philips, which is in the process of divesting largely from lighting to focus solely on health and consumer technology. As part of that process, the conglomerate is working to move beyond imaging where it's traditionally been dominant.

Last year, Philips and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) partnered to develop a hand-held blood test for neuropsychiatric disorder for Minicare. And it already has an acute coronary syndrome test that it markets for Minicare--but the company plans to offer a range tests for the device.

"Point-of-care diagnostics for acute care settings, such as handheld blood tests for emergency departments, will play a critical role in improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs," said Philips CEO of Handheld Diagnostics Marcel van Kasteel in a statement. "Our innovative Minicare technology platform and partnerships are a firm foundation for our ambition to become a leader in this new growth market for Philips."

The Minicare I-20 system is based on Magnotech biosensor technology. It can detect multiple target molecules at low concentrations in a blood sample and offer a result within minutes. The tech uses magnetic nanoparticles to concentrate, separate and detect the target molecules.

As for Banyan's TBI biomarkers, ubiquitin c-terminal hydrolase-L 1 (UCH-L1) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), the startup recently disclosed the results from a 251-patient trial that found its test was able to identify 100% of subjects went on to have a mild or moderate TBI based on a computed tomography (CT) scan. It's starting a 2,000-patient pivotal trial for which it expects to have results in 2016.

There is currently no blood test to identify the presence of or the severity of brain injury; these are typically assessed via an evaluation of symptoms and then a CT scan.

"A rapid and objective point-of-care test to evaluate traumatic brain injury will help millions of patients throughout the world," said Banyan CEO Dr. Jackson Streeter. "This partnership with Philips to develop and commercialize a TBI blood test on the Minicare system is an important step forward in providing physicians and other healthcare providers information to evaluate patients who have suffered a concussion."

- here is the announcement