HemaChrome, a digital health startup that uses smartphone technology to noninvasively and instantly measure blood hemoglobin levels, has won phase 1 of the National Institutes of Health's RADx Tech for Maternal Health Challenge.
The technology was developed by Young Kim, HemaChrome's founder and chief science officer. Kim is a professor and associate head for research at Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. He also is a Showalter Faculty Scholar and University Faculty Scholar at Purdue. Huiri Kim is HemaChrome's CEO.
"Blood hemoglobin tests are among the most common laboratory tests because they are an indicator of a variety of diseases and disorders," Young Kim said. "In fact, they are the most common laboratory tests conducted among obstetric patients. However, more than 2.2 million childbearing women in the U.S. have limited access to such testing.
"Conventional blood hemoglobin tests are usually conducted by invasive and expensive venous blood draws, which require sophisticated equipment, highly trained experts to run the tests and patients who must be present on-site with their health care provider. Our simple app is intended to eliminate these barriers and make these tests accessible to everyone, especially those in health care deserts, by allowing clinicians to conduct point-of-care, home-based and remote diagnostic tests on their patients at a fraction of the cost."
During phase 1 of the challenge, HemaChrome received a cash prize and was vetted by NIH's panel of scientific, medical and business experts for technical and commercial viability. Because it won, HemaChrome will have access to NIH's in-house and in-kind support to speed the development, validation and commercialization of its technology.
HemaChrome meets twice a week with the NIH RADx team of experts as part of the process to proceed to phase 2 of the challenge.
"We are working with the NIH RADx team to identify and mitigate key risk factors for the accelerated development and implementation of our technology," Young Kim said. "If we progress to the next phase, we will work with them to independently test and verify our technology's performance and usability.
"Because the process to receive federal funding and support is highly competitive, winning phase 1 of the challenge has strengthened HemaChrome's resolve to bring our solution to market to benefit those without sufficient health care access who need it most."
Young Kim's research about this technology has been published in several publications and peer-reviewed journals, including the November 2022 issue of Blood and the June 2020 issue of Optica. He is preparing additional papers and conducting ongoing clinical studies.
One of our ongoing clinical studies is historically meaningful. The institutional review board, or IRB, approval between Purdue University and IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette (Indiana) is the first between these two institutions in Greater Lafayette."
Young Kim, HemaChrome's founder and chief science officer
HemaChrome has received support from the U.S.-Korea Conference Startup Pitch Competition and the 2020 NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge. The company also has received support from Purdue Innovates and licenses technology through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.