Startup Spotlight – HEALTH AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

An infrared sensor that checks the innermost layer of blood vessels to rate the risk of cardiovascular disease

Startups tend to enamor the imagination of the public as companies with billion-dollar potential. But most startups fizzle out after a few years in business. Either you grow or you die. That’s the nature of the game. To play it thick skin is a mandatory requirement.

The startups listed in this section are new and still in the infant stage. Some of them have won accolades in glitzy startup competitions, some are opening up un-ventured markets and some think they have just the right idea.

This is their story.

Health at your fingertips

An infrared sensor that checks the innermost layer of blood vessels to rate the risk of cardiovascular disease

Keerthi Kodithuwakku was attending a guest lecture discussing engineering applications in medical sciences when he got the idea that resulted in Jendo.

Three years following that epiphany, a non-invasive diagnostic medical device to test cardiovascular diseases is now being trailed by Jendo, a bio-medical startup founded by Kodithuwakku. Unlike other sensor-based devices, Jendo, he says, can predict the propensity of a person’s risk towards cardiovascular diseases over a 10-year time span.

The red and infrared light-emitting sensor basked in plastic casing clipped to a patient’s fingertip monitors the pulse and temperature variations of blood circulation in the deepest cell layers of blood vessels known as the ‘endothelium’.

The endothelium is like a cellophane wrapper covering blood vessels. Medical studies have found that the condition of the endothelium predicts cardiovascular diseases like heart failure, diabetes and kidney disease. “Endothelial deterioration is visible 10 years before a serious health issue occurs,” says Kodithuwakku. Doctors administering the test can obtain a quick snapshot of a patient’s vascular performance. This eliminates the number of probable causes, leading to better diagnosis, he explains.

Jendo’s key feature is its propriety machine-learning algorithm. Although sensor-based techniques such as photoplethysmogram (PPG), also adopted by Jendo, is widely used in medical devices, it is restricted to identifying haemoglobin saturation and pulse rate. The Jendo algorithm has the ability to capture a wide variety of parameters and derive insights to assign probabilities for a wide variety of cardiovascular diseases. The closest substitute available today to diagnose endothelial quality is an ultrasound scan. This is an expensive option that also requires a technician to administer the test.

HOW IT WORKS

STEP 01
The sensor clipped to the fingertip captures data across two spectrums: pulse and temperature. The red and infrared light emitted from the sensor monitors oxygen saturation and blood circulation patterns across the body. Second, temperature variations after cuff and release of the hand are also detected.

STEP 02
Data are collected across 16 parameters including blood vessel thickness, flow rate and blood volume. Jendo’s proprietary algorithm and machine-learning techniques synthesize the information in diagnosing the condition of the ‘endothelium’.

STEP 03
Through a cloud-based mobile application, the patient is assigned risk-based probabilities for a 10-year period for heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.