Blood test device, artificial cornea win Israel life-sciences startup race

Startups PixCell Medical and CorNeat Vision are chosen by judges during MIXiii-BIOMED 2018 international life science conference in Tel Aviv

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Israel Innovation Authority, left, Dr. Gilad Litvin, Chief Medical Officer, CorNeat Vision, center, and  Dr. Irit Yaniv of Accelmed; Tel Aviv, May 17, 2018 (Alexander Elman)
Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Israel Innovation Authority, left, Dr. Gilad Litvin, Chief Medical Officer, CorNeat Vision, center, and Dr. Irit Yaniv of Accelmed; Tel Aviv, May 17, 2018 (Alexander Elman)

A team of judges at the MIXiii-BIOMED 2018 international life science conference in Israel selected as winners of its startup competition a company that is developing a medical blood count device that can be used at the patient’s bedside, and one that is developing an artificial cornea.

The competition took place this week in Tel Aviv, and was held by the Israel Innovation Authority to identify companies developing breakthrough technologies in the life sciences. From dozens of companies that applied, 45 companies were chosen to present their technologies at the exhibition’s startup area. Out of those, 10 companies were chosen as finalists who presented their innovative technologies at the conference.

On Thursday, Dr. Ami Appelbaum, chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and Chief Scientist at Israel Ministry of Economy and Industry, said that PixCell Medical,and CorNeat Vision were the winning companies.

PixCell Medical is developing a technology to create a point-of-care (POC) hematology analyzer, or blood count device. Point-of-care is a term used for the point of time at which a clinician can deliver solutions and products while with the patient, at the time of care.

Illustrative photo of blood in a test tube. (Margalit Slovin/Flash90)

The company’s main product is HemoScreen, a low-cost portable hematology analyzer which can perform a complete blood count (CBC) at the point-of-care, using disposable cartridges that need no maintenance or calibration. HemoScreen requires a drop of blood from the finger, and within five minutes analyzes 20 standard CBC parameters, including red blood cells and five white blood cell types. It identifies anomalous cells and hemoglobin levels.

The HemoScreen relies on viscoelastic focusing, a physical phenomenon discovered at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in which as blood flows through a micro-channel, some cells migrate to the center of flow and align perfectly into a single cell layer. This brings them in focus and enables them to be optically detected and analyzed. Identification and classification of the cells is achieved using machine learning and machine vision algorithms.

CorNeat Vision is developing an artificial cornea – the CorNeat KPro implant. The CorNeat KPro implant is a patented synthetic cornea that utilizes advanced cell technology to integrate artificial optics with the ocular tissue that is already present. The implants are produced using nanoscale chemical engineering that stimulates cellular growth. The CorNeat KPro is combined with a new surgical procedure to provide an efficient, comfortable and affordable remedy for millions of people with cornea-related visual impairments.

“The 10 companies that participated were a remarkable variety of what the Israeli life science industry has to offer,” said Appelbaum, of the Israel Innovation Authority. “They all presented impressive innovative technologies and choosing the best one was not an easy task. From cellular biology to space technology, we were presented with the best startups in Israel’s life science industry. The winning companies exemplify differentiated technology and solid global strategy, serving as a beacon of excellence for the well-being of humanity.”

Other companies that participated in the startup competition included Alpha Tau Medical, which develops potent alpha radiotherapy for the treatment of solid tumors; Neurosteer, a developer of a wearable sensor for monitoring brain activity providing high quality neurological data; and NovaSight, which develops eye-tracking based devices for screening and therapy of lazy eye and vision disorders while watching movies.

The panel of judges consisted of Dr. Ami Applebaum; Anya Eldan, VP, Israel Innovation Authority, Startup Division; Karin Mayer Rubinstein, CEO and President, Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI); Yaky Yanay, Co-CEO and President, Pluristem Therapeutics and Co-Chairman (Life Science) at IATI; and Dr. Irit Yaniv, General Partner, Accelmed.

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