BOSTON – At the 2018 AGA Tech Summit, this year’s Shark Tank line up included an automated system for video capture of endoscopy, a feeding tube that prevents aspiration in intubated patients, a tool to accurately measure polyps captured on colonoscopy, a device that targets gastrointestinal cancers with electrical pulses, and a new method for real-time stool testing of infectious pathogens.
In each case, the presenting entrepreneur vowed to the Shark Tank panel of experts that their innovation is addressing an important clinical need. In announcing the winner, V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, who is the chair of the(CGIT) and director of interventional endoscopy and general GI endoscopy, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, said, “We have rarely had such a strong group of candidates.”
New for 2018, both the Sharks and AGA Tech Summit attendees voted on a winner. The unanimous winner was Chang-Hee Kim, PhD, who presented a new rapid test for identifying infectious pathogens in stool. The sharks were looking for 1. Novelty/immediate patient impact, 2. Business plan, and 3. Pitch. While all of the participants were close, the immediate patient impact for Dr. Kim’s innovation gave him a leg up on his competitors.
New device permits real-time stool sample analysis
A new tool for rapid analysis of stool for pathogens may be revolutionary in that it can provide results within 15 minutes rather than the days normally required when stool samples are sent to a laboratory, according to Dr. Chang-Hee Kim, chief executive officer of GoDx, Inc. The patent-pending methodology developed at Dr. Kim’s company permits real-time analysis “at the point of need and without the need for a lab.” In addition to the efficiency, the paper-based test, which Dr. Kim compared to a pregnancy test in that there is a color change with positive results, has the potential to improve outcomes.
Real-time testing “will decrease the loss of patients to follow-up and accelerate the time to treatment,” Dr. Kim asserted. “The test is also likely to reduce the spread of nosocomial pathogens if rapid infection control reduces spread.”
The test, which Dr. Kim expected to be made available at a cost of $100, will also be substantially cheaper than current laboratory analyses. In experimental studies, the accuracy has been at least as accurate as polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) testing, according to Dr. Kim. He sees applications not only in hospitals but at sites where ordering laboratory studies are not normally available, such as on cruise ships, in nursing homes, or in the military.