Metabolic Markers and The Greater Link

Sep 13, 2019 | Blog


Issue #40. Friday, September 13

Hello Everyone,

For this edition of the Zoic newsletter, we have a number of interesting deals in the biomarker space. This includes new liquid biopsy technologies and even a new class of markers that could be critical in understanding chronic conditions.

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Metabolic Markers and The Greater Link

In our previous coverage of deals involving biomarker diagnostic technologies, we typically talk about blood analysis looking for DNA or proteins. However, another field that is of interest is metabolite markers. This is the study of particular molecules, ions, and other products of our metabolic pathways that are showing additional links to diseases and conditions. For example, metabolic markers are of particular interest in the mental health space, having shown links to conditions as broad as autism or Parkinsons. Metabolic markers may even interact with the microbiome for therapeutic pathways. Even lifespan may be able to diagnosed with metabolic markers.

Along the same lines, continued findings in biomarkers allow earlier detection of major conditions, such as with dementia and Alzheimer’s. This recent research reveals a promising blood-based biomarker for the diagnosing these chronic illnesses, a much easier to access marker than current spinal fluid based ones. This emphasis the promise of blood testing diagnostic platforms, as an innovative device with dominant market presence will continuously benefit the more biomarkers are discovered, as these can be plugged into the system and infrastructure around it.

The eye is also another diagnostic point, with systems looking at proteins and other molecular targets in the retina to identify a number of chronic conditions early on. The retina itself also needs to be diagnosed in some cases, such as with diabetic neuropathy. Itself a major condition, and with the growth in the diabetic population, more technologies are being trialed for early detection and diagnosing of this disease. For example, an AI-based system can not only prove to be accurate but also easily accessible, critical for a large scale screening system.

In liquid biopsy news, there are still more companies either entering the space or continuing their development and fundraising. This particular venture looks to commercialize a liquid biopsy test that can diagnose prostate cancer early on with a blood sample. Prostate cancer is a particularly high need as the current tests, such as PSA, can use significant improvement. This platform also claims to filter outpatient factors such as other biomarkers, diet, and overall condition. An ideal goal would be a major platform that can consolidate multiple aspects; a “multi-omic” approach that incorporates not just multiple biomarkers, but also multiple sources. Combining genomic, proteomic, metabolic and other factors will only then produce a complete diagnostic picture.

Finally, in a different space, we continue to look for neurotechnology platforms for both diagnosis and therapeutics. Advances in microfabrication can improve the current crop of neural sensors, which are typically focused on a few niche medical applications such as epilepsy detection. These new sensors can vastly expand the list of potential applications, not just with additional medical uses but even for applications that bridge the gap between medical and consumer focuses. For example, a new application for one of the companies in this field, NeuroPace, is aimed towards preventing over-eating.

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