Disrupting the health-care market with real-time disease surveillance

MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Max Perelman, co-founder of Biomeme, says their phone-based test kits will enable doctors to get nearly instant lab results. The company moved to Philly from New Mexico because of DreamIt Ventures.

MAX PERELMAN, 37, of East Falls, is co-founder and head of business development for Philly start-up Biomeme. Backed by DreamIt Ventures, Biomeme has a device that will turn your smartphone into a mobile DNA-replicating machine to help point-of-care clinicians quickly diagnose and track infectious diseases. Other co-founders are Jesse vanWestrienen, 30, of Old City, and Marc DeJohn, 44, of East Falls.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Biomeme?

A: Marc and Jesse have backgrounds in bioscience and engineering and had been working on a mobile-diagnostics device. They told me about it in 2012, we started the company in New Mexico and came here in 2013 for the DreamIt Health accelerator.

Q: Start-up money?

A: One of the founders of Etsy put up seed money in 2012. Then we went to DreamIt with a prototype and got more funding. We've raised about $1.65 million to date. Some investors are Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Micro Ventures.

Q: What's Biomeme do?

A: We believe we can disrupt health care and other markets with the same DNA-diagnostic capabilities big labs do, but faster and at much less cost. Today, a doctor can't accurately test you for [infectious diseases] based on DNA. If you want that, you need to send a saliva or nasal swab to a central lab and you won't get results for days. Our device will give a clinician real-time capability in the palm of a hand.

Q: The biz model?

A: We have a docking station. Once you've downloaded our app, you slot your smartphone into that. Then you open a disposable test kit that detects different diseases and use that to prepare samples that are loaded into the top of [the docking station] and you wait for the results.

Q: Cost of products?

A: We're [projecting] $2,000 for the docking station, and the software is included, and $20 for the disposable test kits.

Q: Do you have clients?

A: We're working with the Department of Defense, and they have their own kits for bioterrorism threats. They want the ability to use their kits on our device. We're also developing our own kits for some sexually transmitted diseases. Our platform would empower clinicians to have accurate diagnoses in real time and treat patients accordingly.

Q: Other customers?

A: We have partnerships with Penn Medicine and Drexel Medicine. We're also working with String Theory Schools in Philly and several firms in the Midwest and San Francisco.

Q: What's next?

A: We'd like to have our disposable [STD] test kits and a number of partner kits ready for market next year and deliver hundreds of units to customers.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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