Delee: Recap on 2020 and Plans for 2021 🔥
First and foremost, we want to wish you a happy new year for you and all your loved ones, we hope everyone is well. As you know, this past year was full of challenges of different sorts, however, we manage to push through the development of CytoCatch despite all these difficulties. In this update we want to review our accomplishments in 2020 and share our plans for 2021🙌
This past year, right after finishing the crowdfunding campaign, we began working really hard to finish the commercial version of our technology. As you know, our technology is composed of a processing unit, which efficiently isolates CTCs from blood samples, and an imaging system that automatically counts and analyzes the tumor cells based on their morphology and the expression of specific markers.
We knew that finishing the commercial versions of these two modules was not going to be an easy task, however, this task was further complicated by the pandemic. During these last months we had various shipments of components that were delayed due to travel restrictions, the hospitals where we collected patients’ samples were saturated with COVID patients which hampered the collection of these due to access restrictions, and we had to adapt ourselves to work in a virtual-presential fashion (which is not ideal when you are developing hardware) due to the local curfews imposed by the local authorities, only to name a few. But despite all of these challenges, we are only a few months away from finishing the commercial versions of these two modules🔥
So far, with regard the processing unit, all the electronic boards have been designed, fabricated, and tested, all the pneumatic components have been integrated and tested, most of the parts that do not form part of the final enclosure have been manufactured and tested, the different type sensors that are needed to measure the critical parameters to carry out the separation process adequately have been successfully integrated, and an early version of a software was developed to allow the user to control and configure the unit through a computer. Furthermore, we have run multiple tests with biological samples to corroborate that the processing unit is working properly. In those tests, we had recovery rates above 94% when 7.5 mL blood samples spiked with 100 tumor cells were processed by the processing unit, which is an excellent performance🌟
With regard the imaging system, all the electronic boards have been designed, fabricated, and tested, all the optical components have been selected and integrated, most of the parts that do not form part of the final enclosure have been manufactured and tested (this includes the structure that gives mechanical support to all the electronic and optical components), the different mechanical stages that enable the movement of the sample in the x-y-z axes have been successfully integrated, a software was developed to control and configure the system through a computer. Additionally, mapping, autofocus, and counting routines have been implemented successfully in the software to completely automate the analysis of the CTCs captured.
There’s still work to do, but as you can see, with regard to the development of the commercial versions of the two modules, most of the work has been done✅
This past year, we also managed to establish three new collaborations that will allow us to collect more samples to accelerate the clinical validations and sales of CytoCatch. One was with the radiology and imaging department of the university hospital Dr. José Eleuterio González where we are collecting samples from patients with advanced prostate cancer and from patients with a variety of benign diseases to be used as controls. A second with the urology department of the Hospital Ángeles where we will be collecting samples from patients with localized prostate cancer. And finally, a collaboration with the oncology department of the university hospital Dr. José Eleuterio González where we will be collecting samples from patients with breast cancer of various stages.
Another highlight of the year was the incorporation of Chiu Chau, CTO of Opentrons, to our Advisory Board. He has given us important insight and helped us with strategies to reduce manufacturing costs and logistics hurdles, as well as finding specialized suppliers and funding options. And we also hired 7 more collaborators since we closed the campaign to speed-up the workflow and achieve our milestones, we are now a team of 22 (including the 3 co-founders)💥
For this 2021, our milestones are clear. In a few months, we will finish the commercial versions of the two modules that compose our technology (the processing unit and the imaging system), trust us it will look awesome
Furthermore we will clinically validate our technology using samples from patients with prostate and breast cancer. The purpose of this trial is to validate that the quantity of CTCs found in samples from patients with cancer, along with other biomarkers contained in those cells, are sufficient to be used to early diagnose prostate and breast cancer. In fact, although the commercial versions are not finished, they already are completely functional, and since the institutional review board of each of the hospitals where we have collaborations has approved the clinical protocols we have submitted in this last year, we are already collecting patients’ samples and with them we are testing the performance of the technology with real samples. Once these tests are finished, we will start collecting data for this trial💯
Also, we want to begin raising a series A in mid this year, however, some people in our network of Y Combinator and Start X, and even our advisors, are suggesting us to consider raise money through another crowdfunding campaign, since the SEC is raising the crowdfunding limit to $ 5M. Therefore we are strongly considering to run another campaign to secure funding. We will let you know in the next update!
Finally, we want to thank you again for all the support you have given us, during the campaign and throughout the following months. We are working really hard to achieve all the milestones that were set, trust us we will not disappoint you🙌