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Cascade Metrix: Revolutionizing Critical Care with Automated Blood Analysis


(Image credit: Unsplash.com)


Blood draws and blood work are critical components of care during any intensive care treatment at a hospital. Not only is this process manual and episodic resulting in sub-optimal care, but medical providers also recognize that too many blood draws themselves can result in anemia, and other side effects (see article by Lutz and Cho). On the other hand, for monitoring certain conditions such as blood glucose fluctuations or the onset of sepsis, blood just can't be tested frequently enough to enable timely treatment. What is a physician to do? Draw more blood or less?


Enter Cascade Metrix and their proposed innovation to increase the frequency and information content of blood analysis without consuming any blood.


I recently had the opportunity to talk with Kislaya Kunjan (KK), PhD, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Cascade Metrix (CMX). CMX is a medical technology company with a mission to transform critical care by automating blood analysis at the bedside. Their innovative device, a patient-attached automated multiplex analyzer (“AutoPlexer”), promises to revolutionize how doctors monitor and treat critically ill patients.


Engineering a Medical Marvel From a Surgeon's Vision

Cascade Metrix wasn't born out of a Silicon Valley incubator. It began with Dr. Frank Lloyd, an Indiana surgeon, frustrated by the limitations of traditional blood glucose monitoring in critical care. He envisioned a more efficient and automated way to track these vital metrics.


Dr. Lloyd found a partner in KK, a Purdue University engineer whose graduate thesis on glucose sensing was the basis for the formation of a start-up that had received a quarter million-dollar investment from the university venture fund. When Dr. Lloyd connected with KK through his Purdue advisor, Prof. Jay Gore, KK was then finishing up his MBA at Cornell and had accepted a job with Johnson & Johnson. However, the allure of re-entering the start-up space proved more enticing, and he and Dr. Lloyd founded Cascade Metrix. 


CMX’s initial focus was automated blood glucose monitoring to support tight glycemic control in hospitals. Over time they developed a platform technology for automated vascular blood sampling that could be readily integrated with multiple biosensing technologies to support early diagnosis and ongoing therapy management of critically ill patients. This automated multiplex analyzer (AutoPlexer) currently measures glucose, lactate, hematocrit/hemoglobin and oxygen saturation to support various conditions in critical care, notably sepsis. 


Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction in response to an infection that accounts for over 50 million cases globally and is the leading cause of death. CMX will be adding on other analytes over time to support a wide range of critical conditions that are plagued by traditional blood sampling and measurement technologies.  


What sets CMX apart? Their device is the first of its kind. It is capable of automated, multi-analyte testing at the bedside. This eliminates the need for finger-stick based glucose measurements, reduces the risk of anemia from frequent blood draws for laboratory analysis, and allows for automated user-defined frequency of analysis at the point of care. Additionally, the AutoPlexer boasts a unique advantage: its blood sampling system doesn't require the infusion of heparin, an anti-coagulant that can cause serious complications.


Image (courtesy of CMX): AutoPlexer prototype with fixed hardware, tablet-based control interface, and the disposable set which consists of the flow-through biosensor array and patient tube-set.


The Road Ahead

CMX, like many startups, has an exciting future, but with some challenges ahead. Pre-clinical trials in partnership with Purdue University have validated their technological approach, but successful in-patient safety and accuracy studies are going to be critical before they can file for and obtain regulatory approval.


Like many startups, the company’s initial funding was provided by the founders along with an unwavering dedication to the company’s mission. However, a recent NIH Phase 1 SBIR grant award along with a matching grant from Elevate Ventures has catapulted the company’s prospects forward. For the future, finding continued funding for development remains an ever-present challenge. The company hopes to secure additional grant funding and private funding to continue their product development and commercialization efforts.


Whatever the future brings, the drive to impact patient lives continually propels KK and the CMX team and gives them the resilience to overcome challenges. In the end, CMX looks to transform critical care with the world's first automated blood analyzer, saving patient lives and improving outcomes while reducing care team burden.


To learn more about CMX and their innovative technology, or to contact them directly, visit their website at https://www.cascademetrix.com.




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