Fyodor Biotechnologies – Democratizing the Diagnosis of Malaria
The Investment Collective has been seeking technologies that streamline the health care industry since we started our group earlier this year. We believe that products that reduce the need for administrators and laboratories, cut costs for treatment and diagnoses, and shift control of medical care to patients will be the key to improving the cost and quality of care. This opportunity is particularly applicable to malaria.
Malaria is a deadly disease. In 2016, the mosquito-transmitted disease infected 216 million people and killed 445,000. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 70% of the deaths were children under the age of five.
We don’t think about malaria much in the United States. The disease is more prevalent in regions near the equator, including Latin America, Africa and Asia. About 40% of the world’s population is located in areas that are high risk for malaria.
For most of the last 100 years, efforts to control the disease have yielded results. The number of malaria infections and resulting deaths declined almost every year. Until 2016, when both increased.
Well-known global organizations, like the WHO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have redoubled efforts to eradicate malaria. Almost universally, those efforts fall into three categories: prevention, detection and treatment.
Most of the attention has gone toward prevention and treatment. Prevention efforts include wide distribution of mosquito nets, chemical treatments of homes and offices, increased availability of anti-malarial medications, and even CRISPR projects to manage the mosquito population. Treatments are always evolving – malaria parasites can build resistance which limits the effectiveness of medications if overprescribed (similar to problems with antibiotics in the West). Substantial investment is made by pharmaceutical companies to try to stay ahead of the disease.
Surprisingly, detection methods have not received much attention. Tests are limited to blood tests and have remained largely the same since the 1970s when Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) were introduced for malaria. RDTs provide a relatively quick and accurate diagnosis. However, despite estimates of over 500 million malaria tests performed annually, innovations are required to make tests more readily available to patients at home. According to the WHO, early diagnosis and prompt treatment of malaria prevent deaths.
This is why The Investment Collective is excited to announce our investment in Fyodor Biotechnologies, a Maryland-based company that has spent years developing the world’s first Urine Malaria Test (UMT). Customers who purchase the UMT can test for malaria at home without needing to draw blood. This is important because clinics, labs and medical professionals are not readily available in many of the regions where malaria is endemic.
Led by Dr. Eddy Agbo, Fyodor has spent the last several years developing, testing, and gaining regulatory approval for the UMT. In clinical trials led by The University of Lagos, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and Nigerian health groups, the UMT was found to be as accurate as RDT blood tests.
After a pilot study to test various markets, Fyodor is ready to launch wide distribution of the UMT in Nigeria this year. We are excited about the launch of the product and Fyodor’s opportunity to save lives.
Just as exciting, however, is the ability for Fyodor to leverage the UMT as a platform for the diagnosis of other diseases that impact people in the same regions of the world. We believe that Fyodor’s technology and methods are conducive to better and more democratized testing for several other deadly diseases that currently rely on blood tests.
The Investment Collective is proud to be an early investor in Fyodor Biotechnologies. We look forward to helping Eddy and his team to continue to do great work to benefit their customers all over the world.