January 11, 2018 | Jeff Trail

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Technical Paper Helping to Revolutionize the Blood Draw Process


Drawbridge Health has developed a new way to draw blood. The company founded by GE Ventures is in the final testing phases of an innovative blood collection device that can be used to draw blood anywhere, even at home. Point-of-care testing is nothing new, however, the ease of use and effectiveness of Drawbridge's tech is revolutionary.


The Matrix: A High-tech Paper

Users simply apply the device to the upper arm and press an activation button. A blood sample is taken and stored in a self-contained cartridge which can be removed and sent to a lab for analysis. The unique part of the technology is that the sample is stabilized using an advanced technical paper. The paper, originally developed by GE Global Research, is known as "the matrix."


How it Works

The device will draw a small amount of blood, channeling it onto the matrix paper, which then stores the blood sample for later testing. The matrix also works to stabilize the collected blood sample which completely eliminates the need for refrigeration. All that is left for the patient to do is send the sample to the lab.


Potential Impact on the Market: Costs, Savings, and Benefits

The global blood collection market is a $7 billion a year industry. The blood testing market size was estimated at $51.5 billion for the year 2015. This device, if successful, will impact both markets. According to Grandview Research, increased patient awareness about point-of-care self-testing and home diagnostic tests are expected to improve the adoption of innovative products in the aforementioned markets.

Currently, trained phlebotomy technicians and other health professionals draw over 1 billion samples each year. What's more, handling blood requires clinicians to use protective equipment and disposal of blood-contaminated medical waste can cost up to $1.00 per pound.

Health delivery organizations and labs stand to gain the most financial benefits. First, through lower HR and training expenses, decreased medical waste disposal needs, and fewer phlebotomy equipment purchases. However, improved patient experience and better outcomes may achieve a bigger gain over time. Blood test findings are necessary for over 70 percent of healthcare treatment decisions, yet, many patients are afraid of needles. For the 25 percent of patients labeled as "difficult to access," and requiring multiple sticks, the Drawbridge solution will bring improved patient satisfaction. 


Drawbridge Product Development and Commercialization

With this product, a first to market in its class, it is primed to be a commercial success. Drawbridge is backed by GE Health and GE Ventures. GE works to identify, scale and accelerate innovative ideas that aim to make the world work better. GE Ventures specializes in equity investing, business creation, patenting, licensing, and technology transfer in order to develop innovative platforms that are designed to drive growth for GE and its partners.

Recently it was announced that Thorne Research has received exclusive rights to distribute and commercialize all Drawbridge Health products in the United States. Thorne Research is contributing a significant (multimillion-dollar) investment into Drawbridge Health to continue the development of the product. Thorne Research who owns WellnessFX is a leader in the health and wellness industry. The focus of their business is specifically to provide health and diagnostic technology platforms to healthcare consumers –thus empowering patients to take ownership of their wellbeing.


Other Paper-based Products for Medical Uses

Technical paper has attracted increasing attention for its use as a substrate for varied biomedical applications. Through modification of the physical and chemical properties, technical paper is also being used as an alternative to traditional cell culture substrates. Since it can be stacked into a 3D structure, it can better mimic an in vivo cell environment than other materials. To this end, paper-based materials have shown great potential for giving more precise control over the re-creation of the extracellular matrix. Paper-based platforms are also being applied to pathophysiological studies and other therapeutic intervention studies. 



The matrix will help to disrupt the draw and storage of blood sample markets, however, it is not the only product looking to do so. Due to the advantages like biocompatibility, eco-friendliness, cost efficiency, and ease of to-scale production, it is believed that that technical paper platforms could play an important role in other areas of biomedicine.


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