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Metfora - Detecting Your Body's Early Signals of Big Diseases

Metfora was the Bio and Life Science finalist in the 2021 IdeaFunding Pitch Competition. Companies in the vertical pitch competition were grouped by similar industry verticals to compete in categories such as tech, SaaS, bio and life science, and consumer product. We had the chance to ask the founders more about Metfora innovative technology, which uses metabolites to make early stage diagnoses of big diseases.

Q: Describe your company. What’s your product and what problem are you solving for your  customers?

A: Our company is very new, just out of the blocks. It is based on research from the Rafikov and Rafikova laboratories at the University of Arizona and seeks to bring an innovative and powerful diagnostic technology to market. The premise is to analyze metabolites in blood samples to detect diseases in their early stages so that treatment can start when it can be the most effective. This will have dramatic benefits for difficult-to-diagnose diseases like pulmonary hypertension which usually takes more than 2 years to diagnose and other chronic diseases.

Q: Congratulations on winning IdeaFunding! What are your next steps? How will this money help you achieve your goals?

A: So far, we have not raised any money, so the prize from the IdeaFunding pitch competition is very impactful. It will help us perform a detailed intellectual property analysis with an outside patent counsel.

Q: How do you use scientific discovery to drive the development of your product?

A: The science behind our method is relatively new. While metabolites have been known for decades, their use for diagnostic applications is just emerging. During disease process, cells in our body changes their metabolic state that reflected in metabolites they secreted. Our technology is focused on targeted metabolic panels – we called them “fingerprints” that can detect the disease. Because for humans it is hard to recognize the high dimensional changes, we utilize machine learning to catch it and provide the diagnosis.

Q: How will healthcare providers decide when to use your product?

A: We just recently participated in national I-Corps program run by NSF and have conducted

interviews with physicians about this. They are enthusiastic because they often have patients

presenting with nonspecific symptoms. Diagnosing such patients is very challenging and they would welcome a test that can point them to the underlying condition without spending

enormous time on multiple visits to specialists and complicated and costly invasive testing. This will ultimately benefit patients because they can receive treatment early in disease progression and improve the prognosis for many debilitating diseases.

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