Solution Overview

Solution Name:

LFAnt Medical

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One-line solution summary:

Next-generation at-home rapid testing for infectious diseases, enabled by novel biochemistry, embedded sensing, and smartphone connectivity.

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Pitch your solution.

LFAnt was founded on the vision of bringing clinical testing out of the doctor’s office and into the home. The next generation of healthcare depends on providing rapidly growing telemedicine platforms with the remote testing capabilities necessary to offer holistic services that encompass both the diagnosis and treatment of common infections and diseases.

Our core technology offers a versatile platform that is readily adaptable to a wide variety of pathogens and biomarkers. Our first product, the Compact, focuses on rapid testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, the two most common sexually transmitted infections. Our team is also pursuing the development of a rapid test for COVID-19 antibodies with its portfolio of proprietary technologies. With these advancements, LFAnt aims to be a leader in next-generation diagnostic technologies by empowering patients with the diagnostic tools and autonomy for distributed, rapid and reliable self-healthcare.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in North America and accounted for 98.6% of STI cases reported by the CDC in 2018. Each year in the United States alone, roughly 24,000 women are diagnosed as infertile due to pelvic inflammatory disease arising from years of undiagnosed and untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea infections. 

In developing our platform, LFAnt first performed a study of individuals across North America to determine why these readily treatable and detectable diseases were propagating so easily. Despite near-epidemic infection rates, we found that 54% of the sexually active individuals surveyed had never been tested for an STI. Only 6% were getting tested at the frequency recommended to them by the CDC and Health Canada. Additional research also shows that the most cited reasons among North Americans for not getting tested are stigma, convenience and cost.

Unfortunately, chlamydia and gonorrhea are just one example of the plethora of infections and diseases causing harm across the globe due to improper monitoring and treatment. Every day, people choose to forgo a visit to their local clinic, typically citing the aforementioned issues of convenience, privacy and cost.

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What is your solution?

LFAnt aims to promote widespread STI testing across North America by offering a reliable and inexpensive at-home testing solution with private and convenient access to telemedicine services. With our test kit and platform, we make it possible to get tested, diagnosed and treated for readily curable STIs all in the same day while ensuring the quality and reliability people expect from medical services. 

To illustrate the benefits of LFAnt’s smart diagnostic platform, consider the following use case:

A college sophomore learns she may have contracted chlamydia from a previous sexual partner. Testing services on campus are booked solid for the next two weeks, so she purchases the Compact online and has the test kit delivered to her apartment. She downloads LFAnt’s mobile app, is guided through the sample collection and administration process and receives results directly to her smartphone within 10 minutes. Her results are confirmed in-app, where she is virtually connected to a local healthcare practitioner to receive further guidance and treatment as necessary.

The Compact provides patients with an affordable at-home STI testing solution that allows them to skip the clinic and lengthy time-to-results without compromising their quality of care.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

While at-home and patient-centered STI testing has the potential to positively impact individuals of all ages and sexes, LFAnt’s go-to-market strategy focuses on millennials and other digital natives. Given the seamless integration of the Compact with consumer smart devices, tech-oriented young professionals are poised to be the early adopters of LFAnt’s technology. This customer demographic shows a high degree of technological literacy and a growing demand to move away from traditional primary care models. Additionally, telehealth services such as Dialogue often work directly with employers looking to promote employee health and well-being, making young professionals already some of the earliest beneficiaries of these innovative virtual care services. 

Beyond the emergence of telehealth services, the pandemic is also expanding LFAnt’s customer base. More than ever, society recognizes the value of digitally-integrated rapid testing and augmented virtual healthcare. Since the onset of the pandemic, the general public has gained a critical awareness of infectious disease prevention strategies and public health measures as well as hands-on experience seeking various forms of COVID-19 testing. The global emphasis on testing throughout the pandemic positions LFAnt to access a new and diverse customer base eager to adopt similar technologies for STI testing. 

In terms of impact, the Compact and future planned products all serve an overarching goal: democratize healthcare by digitizing diagnostics. There has been little innovation in the rapid diagnostic space since the 1980s, and few efforts have been made to improve upon the patient journey for sexually transmitted infections. Our patients will be guided through an experience where the testing service is performed entirely in-home at their leisure, yet they’re directly connected to telemedicine services should the need for additional expertise arise.

At LFAnt, we believe that healthcare is a human right, and we hope to impact individuals' lives by providing them with inexpensive, accessible, private and reliable products to self-test and monitor their health.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Strengthen disease surveillance, early warning predictive systems, and other data systems to detect, slow, or halt future disease outbreaks.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

As we’ve seen with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, testing is at the heart of infectious disease control. When it’s successfully implemented, any outbreaks can be quickly tracked and managed, completely removing the stress of the disease from society by isolating and treating cases.

By digitizing the testing and associated data from rapid testing, LFAnt proposes entirely new ways to track and control the spread of infectious diseases, including:

  • Improved Patient Healthcare

  • Automatic Contact Tracing

  • Anonymous Exposure Notification

  • Government Rate Reporting (both testing and confirmed)

  • Automated Healthcare Follow-Up

  • Better Screening in “Hot” Areas

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Montreal, QC, Canada
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

LFAnt has developed numerous prototypes for our core sensing platform. Currently, we’ve agglomerated the many components which we’ve developed over the last 2 years into a singular device, and we’re currently performing a bench-top study in order to obtain baseline reference performance data. Once we have this baseline data, we’ll be able to approach our in-human pilot study in the Fall to validate expected performance metrics.

As such, we’re currently at a Prototype-finalization phase with intention to be at the Pilot phase this Fall. During this pilot study, we’ll be working with a Montreal-based clinic (Prelib) who will employ our test kits next to the gold standard in STI testing to establish non-inferiority. Thus, we’ll be testing a 500-1000 person sample of the Montreal community.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Mark Kumhyr – mark@lfantmedical.com

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

LFAnt proposes several key innovations that haven’t been integrated into existing products. There are:

  • Technological:

    • One of the issues with previous rapid tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea (and the reason most of them failed to achieve FDA and/or CLIA approval) is that the sensitivity of the assays are too low. In creating the Compact, LFAnt’s first step was to create best-in-class sensing molecules to target chlamydia in urine and ensure that our assays offer theoretical sensitivities better than any competitor (patent-pending).

    • We also created a completely novel microelectronic hardware platform (patent-pending) which converts signals from analog to digital and allows for a vastly superior sensitivity when compared to traditional visual rapid tests (at the moment, we propose a 5x better limit of detection than optical LFA-based rapid tests).

    • Finally, our integration with smartphones offers computation power (both local and server-side) that is quite unobtainable on a disposable device.

    • Thus, the Compact can seamlessly create and convey a best-in-class diagnostic signal all the way from a patient sample to a telemedicine provider.

  • Healthcare:

    • While our technology proposes and integrates multiple innovations, one key distinguishing feature is our patient-centric model. LFAnt began with the problem of poor service for sexually transmitted infections, and built a business around ensuring each step of the testing process was improved. Thus, our technology not only improves on the assay sensitivity, but allows for a completely new treatment paradigm as patients can test, get help and ultimately get treated all from the comfort of their own home.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Biotechnology / Bioengineering
  • Internet of Things
  • Materials Science
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • LGBTQ+
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Canada
  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Canada
  • United States
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

At the moment, LFAnt Medical is focused on bench-top testing and development, with a first in-human pilot study planned for the Fall. As such, our solution doesn’t currently directly serve any individuals. That said, while our core solution is dedicated towards testing, we’ve also dedicated a lot of our time towards destigmatizing STIs at conferences, events and through our public outreach.

In one year, LFAnt will be amidst a pivotal study for our device. We will thus be directly serving in the area of 500-1000 people, although this will be in the context of a clinical study.

In ~two years, LFAnt will be exiting regulatory and launching our product. We estimate that initial demand will quickly scale up to a 500k units /year ramp given a minimal marketing campaign, a number that we’ve extracted from the send-in service Lets Get Checked. Given that sexually active individuals are recommended to be tested for STIs every 6-12 months, LFAnt would thus be improving the lives of 250k-500k individuals.

In five years, LFAnt is the go-to provider for STI diagnostics. We enable sexual health for over 50M North Americans, while beginning a European and Asian company expansion.

Regardless of the numbers, one thing is certain: every person that LFAnt diagnoses with an STI that otherwise wouldn’t have been tested is one life meaningfully altered and made safe.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Our impact goals are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal number 3, which sets out to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. As LFAnt’s digitally-integrated diagnostic platform is in the pre-commercial phase of development, LFAnt currently measures it’s progress towards this impact goal based on our ability to promote the adoption of at-home testing and raising awareness for the often overlooked epidemic of STIs across North America (and the globe). 

One of the simplest ways we measure the adoption of our vision is through our traction on the internet and social media. Specific metrics such as visitors and followers on our website and LinkedIn pages, which have both doubled over the past two months, provide us with a basic understanding of how well we are communicating our work as well as how our community is responding to these ideas.

Another important indicator of our impact at this early stage in our development is our recognition at events, pitch competitions, and through government grants. In April, LFAnt competed at the Rice Business Plan Competition, the world’s largest and richest student startup competition, placing highest among all the life science competitors and 6th overall, taking home over $25,000 USD in cash prizes. Most importantly, LFAnt was given a platform to spread our vision to over 150 judges from venture capital, public health agencies, and other influential institutions from across the US who are shaping the future of the American economy and healthcare system.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

At the moment, LFAnt Medical operates with:

4 full-time employees (2 Technical and 2 Business Leads)

5 Part-time / Intern Employees (4 Technical and 1 Business Lead)

1 Financial Controller

For a total team size of 10.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

2 years

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

As a team of recent graduates and young professionals, the idea for a digitally-integrated at-home diagnostic platform stemmed from countless encounters with antiquated primary care models and inadequate experiences with newer telehealth alternatives. At university, team members looking to get tested for STIs were met with long phone queues and limited availability at the on-campus clinic, and out-of-province students often had even more difficulties syncing health records and filing reimbursement claims with local clinics outside the university. Similar systemic issues persisted in the workplace, as team members working part-time for larger tech companies tried to access testing and treatment options through their companies’ local telehealth service providers. The story was the same, before seeking any sort of treatment, you had to get tested at a clinic. We figured there must be a better way.

LFAnt Medical was founded out of the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University, from which our 4 co-founders will soon hold a total of 7 undergraduate and graduate degrees between themselves. As such, our founding team shows extremely strong technical grounding. This academic background also offers an important team of advisors and researchers who have been key contributors to LFAnt’s development. Likewise, our team has experience in both industrial and startup R&D settings, including past roles at the National Research Council of Canada, Deloitte, and Spartan Biosciences. Perhaps more importantly, LFAnt’s founding team is complemented by employees that have personally experienced and understand the issues surrounding testing for STIs.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

To foster equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at LFAnt, the leadership team has set the goal of at least 50% of employees being women and 50% of employees from minority groups. We have set forth a robust recruiting plan using gender neutral language and equity and diversity goals as a guideline. Our recruiting plan includes the use of social media with specific inclusive hashtags to reach a diverse audience. Flexible working hours and work-at-home accommodations are provided. All members of the team will undertake yearly training for unconscious bias and cultural competencies.  

LFAnt Medical works with industry liaisons from McGill as well as other institutions in Montreal’s continuing education community to actively support the participation of under-represented groups in the research and development of the Compact. LFAnt works with representatives from McGill’s MedTech Talent Accelerator to employ under-represented graduate students in STEM through BioTalent Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Through the SWPP, BioTalent offers exclusive wage subsidies to first-year students and under-respresented groups to promote inclusivity in STEM. 

Through the BioTalent SWPP and similar employee subsidy programs, LFAnt has welcomed five new employees to the team this summer, of which two identify as women, and three are from minority groups. As the team continues to grow, LFAnt is committed to upholding these EDI goals and promoting EDI within the company, our network of stakeholders, and the larger diagnostics industry.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

LFAnt Medical has 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
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Please explain in more detail here.

Our team holds an incredibly strong technical background, with multiple degrees and previous roles in Bioengineering. We're confident in our ability to engineer novel technology for diagnostic testing, but we're well aware of the additional complexity of bringing a medical device to market, especially one that induces a societal shift towards new value. We've also made significant efforts in developing our regulatory and clinical plans, but definitely look for additional help and guidance on these fronts.

As such, our #1 search is to find individuals and partner organizations that are interested and invested in our mission, in order to expand our technology's reach into the USA and Canada. Some particular concerns include:

  • STI Testing Services and Organizations (Planned Parenthood, local testing organizations, clinical managers, etc.)
  • Distribution channels (telemedicine, pharmacies, online retail)
  • Regulatory (device classification, pivotal study plan)
  • Marketing (Device presentation, branding)
  • Partner technologies / testing
    • One of the great benefits of our platform is its applicability to a wide variety of sensing scenarios. We want to work with companies and people to determine what the biggest needs in diagnostics are, and then we can provide them with best-in-class rapid testing technology!
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Solution Team

 
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