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  • Writer's pictureLenora Thomas

Introducing: Nanospeed Diagnostics

With the ASTech awards just finished, it made sense for our latest About Alberta Technology blog to focus on a local company that has been a past winner.

Rajan Gupta, COO of NanoSpeed Diagnostics and his partner, Seema Gupta have a long history working in life science technology in Edmonton. Rajan earned his PhD in Biochemistry and spent time working and educating in the university labs. During this period, he was looking for an opportunity to build out his own company. His first venture was based on agrifood industries and nutritional labeling, but in 2009 he shifted his focus to blood chemistry.

Seema’s idea was to create a new point-of-care diagnostic with the ability to perform a 5-10 minute test—on the spot without sample prep—to make it easier to get standard testing without having to go to a lab. This idea led to the creation of a spot test for Vitamin D. In fact, NanoSpeed Diagnostics was the first company ever able to do a Vitamin D test that only required a single drop of blood.

The new diagnostic offered several advantages over other tests used elsewhere in the industry. The NanoSpeed Diagnostics test was faster, didn’t require patients to return to the lab for their results, and was considerably cheaper than its counterparts.

Fun fact - did you know that the costs associated with traditional Vitamin D tests was a factor in Alberta Health Services (AHS) choosing to omit Vitamin D checks from our standard prescribed blood tests? This is also the practice in most of the Provinces.

Given that our province’s population has a comparatively higher rate of Vitamin D deficiencies—a common health issue for communities in higher latitudes that get less sunlight during the year—it would be most excellent if NanoSpeed could bring its economical option for Vitamin D testing to Albertans.

NanoSpeed’s original Vitamin D test found it’s first buyers internationally. Jumping through Canada’s arcane regulatory hoops takes a significant amount of time and money with no guarantee of eventual success, NanoSpeed’s initial sales allowed them to move forward with building similar tests for Ferritin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin A.

These diagnostic products are being used in European Union and other less stringently regulated nations, but this investment from other countries and companies is enabling NanoSpeed to make gains in its efforts with Health Canada for approval in this country.

Moving into the future, NanoSpeed is looking to get the tests into the North American market for use in individual health tracking.

As always with About Alberta Tech, one of the things we asked Rajan was: Why did you choose to base your business in Alberta?

Rajan noted that our innovation environment is unique. The existence of strong university systems, great research funding, as well as access to Prairies Canada, IRAP, and Alberta Innovates provides a great ecosystem to work within.

The one regional detail Rajan hopes will change in the future is a more reasonable regulatory environment for testing new products in our province and the rest of Canada.

It is very hard to launch a new health-related product in Canada, as you either need to have a huge amount of capital (not easy for small start ups to come up with) or must start your business outside of Canada before circumstances allow you to really scale up. It’s an uphill battle.

Now for the link to AS Tech Awards:

The ASTech Awards is an awards ceremony focused on Alberta’s science, technology, and innovation environment. It brings together industry, academia, government, and entrepreneurs to recognize the amazing innovation happening in this province. Rajan’s first entry for ASTech award was in 2012 with NanoSpeed Diagnostics, which helped him with his journey in building life science technology here in Alberta.

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