Seventh Sense Biosystems picked up a $10 million Series C to develop new products around and to expand manufacturing capacity for its “push-button” blood collection device.
The TAP device is placed on the upper arm and at the push of a button, it fires an array of 30 microneedles into the skin and then retracts them, CEO Howard Weisman said. As the microneedles pierce the skin, the blood is essentially vacuumed into the device, where it is anticoagulated and stored for delivery to a lab. While it is designed to collect 100 microliters (0.1 milliliters) of blood, it can be tweaked to collect more or less, Weisman said.
“The needles are so small and are deployed and retracted so rapidly so patients don’t actually feel them compared to venipuncture,” he said. The limited invasiveness of the device improves the patient experience and could result in more patients taking blood-based diagnostic tests. It also has the potential to eliminate the need for tourniquet, large needles, lancets, tubes and bandages from the blood-collection process, the company said in a statement.
Existing investors Novartis, LabCorp, Polaris Partners and Flagship Ventures participated in the financing. Seventh Sense will use part of the Series C to drive the development of accessory products over the next few years, said newly minted Chief Business Officer Stuart Blitz. It will also put the funds toward expanding its manufacturing capacity in anticipation of FDA approval and launch early next year. The current regulatory submission is for use by a healthcare professional in a clinical setting, but the company eventually wants to get it approved for home use.
Traditional venipuncture typically yields 5 to 20 milliliters of blood, much of which is discarded. While the company’s tech has the obvious plus of cutting down on waste, it also fits into the larger industry shift of reducing the amount of blood needed to run diagnostic tests, Blitz said. The now-infamous Theranos is a walking example of how not to go
Cutting down on waste is an obvious plus, but the technology fits into the larger trend of diagnostics companies reducing the amount of blood they need to run their tests, Blitz said. And even if the now-infamous Theranos ran into issues while trying to execute this idea, it did spot the shift that patients want to be able to do these kinds of tests and get their healthcare in more convenient locations, he said.