Descue Medical, a Utah-based startup founded by University of Utah bioengineering students and brothers Andrew and Christopher Pagels, is poised to release a new consumer healthcare product called iTest in late 2015. While conventional diagnostics are typically expensive and trapped within hospitals, the iTest gives consumers a way to test themselves inexpensively, using just a smartphone.
The testing device is a jacket that fits around an iPhone and will interface with disposable tests for strep, flu, rhinovirus, dengue fever and malaria. Users simply swab their cheeks, or insert a drop of blood into the test, press start on the iTest application on their phone, and can get results for these illnesses in just a few minutes.
The idea came from time that Andrew and Christopher spent in hospitals, both in the U.S. and abroad. They noticed that wherever they went, there was a similar situation: healthcare was often expensive and difficult to access, and yet the majority of people have smartphones.
“A smartphone is like a supercomputer in your pocket. We suddenly realized how much we could leverage this computing power to give people powerful tools for healthcare right in their hands,” Andrew said.
“There are many situations where parents have no idea what kind of illness their children have,” Christopher added. “Think of testing your child with a device as simple as a temperature reader and knowing within 15 minutes whether you need to take them to a doctor. That’s the kind of convenience iTest will deliver.”
Descue Medical started with just Andrew and Christopher, but grew rapidly with help from entrepreneurial resources provided by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, a division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and programs such as Bench-to-Bedside, the Utah Entrepreneur Series competitions and the Entrepreneur Club Get Seeded program.
“We would never be where we are today without the support of the Lassonde Institute programs,” Christopher said. “Not only did we get funding to build several iterations of our product, we also met amazing, talented teammates and advisors through the competitions who are helping us take our idea and really execute on it.”
Descue has designed and built functional prototypes of the iTest device, and has gone to great lengths to work with future customers to ensure that the device is easy enough for anyone to use.
“Once we have the device in production, the applications are nearly limitless,” said Jonathan Bruns, chief engineer of Descue Medical. “We’re focusing on helping moms and dads perform basic testing in their homes now, and eventually, we hope to take iTest to resource-poor countries to bring diagnostic accessibility to previously very remote, underserved areas.”
Descue just launched a crowdfunding campaign recently to connect with future customers and begin the initial stages of manufacturing, in hopes to launch their first test near the end of 2015. To learn more about Descue Medical, go to www.descue.com.
About Descue Medical
The Descue Medical (Descue) team is firmly committed to the belief that healthcare is for everyone. Christopher and Andrew Pagels, the original founders, are students in biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. The Pagels developed the parts and assay technologies that form the core of iTest, Descue’s first product. As the company gains momentum, they have added team members in operations, engineering and branding. Descue’s panel of advisors consists of professionals in venture capital, medical devices, medicine and marketing.