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The Venture Junkie 
QSM Diagnostics 

Of ever more critical importance is the early detection of disease. Diagnostics is that particular buzzword, made infamous due to Theranos’ meteoric rise and fall in the last 12 months. But we cannot forget the nobility of preventative and detective medicine, nor let ourselves become jaded to the possibilities of disruptive innovation. With that in mind, I would like to introduce QSM Diagnostics, a startup focused on providing early detection of bacterial infection.

How It Works

Some Background: When a patient visits a hospital with a medical problem, doctors can and often do tests for bacterial infections. They take a blood, urine, or sputum sample and send it to a centralized lab where the sample is cultured, bacteria identified, and results returned. This process can take 24-72 hours depending on the test, lab sophistication, and severity of problem. A lot can go wrong with a critically ill patient in 72 hours, so doctors will sometimes prescribe antibiotics or other treatments without knowing the full results. This is how an estimated 20-30% of antibiotics prescribed are not actually needed and do not treat the underlying problem creating the possibility of drug resistance or creating a new complication from the wrong medication being prescribed.

QSM Diagnostics would like to change this process. QSM stands for Quorum Sensing Molecules, which are unique molecules produced by particular strains of bacteria. Using extremely sensitive molecular sensors, QSM Diagnostics can detect and identify bacterial infection instantly at the point of patient.

If you would like to see the technology in action, CLICK HERE  to see a demonstration.

I Want One Where Can I get it?

QSM is currently in beta testing mode at select hospitals comparing their results to established diagnostics tests. After they prove out their product, they will move to FDA approval.

The company is also pursuing diagnostic testing for animals. A commercial application for their product is testing livestock for bacterial infection to make sure the food supply remains safe for consumption. QSM is providing diagnostics at a local animal hospital and anticipates that livestock testing will be their first commercially available test.

Let’s Talk Finance

Funding: The company has won several grants to develop and prove out their product.

Raising Money: They are now raising $2M to take the product to market.

Revenue: Pre-revenue. When the product rolls out, it will be a razor and blade model with a handheld reader and something like litmus strips for each test.

Potential Customer: Hospitals primarily. Commercial livestock.

Market Size: Bacterial testing is an $8B market. Additionally QSM will help decentralize diagnostics providing point of patient testing that could potentially cut a large percent of costs. Savings from staffing, misdiagnosis, and other collateral costs could be upwards of a $50B opportunity.

Industries Served: Healthcare, diagnostics, livestock

Cyclicality: non-cyclical

Market Shift: There is a focus on decentralizing healthcare allowing for faster, independent decision-making. Additional emphasis has been placed on preventative and diagnostic healthcare to catch disease early before it turns into something worse.

Are You Hiring: Co-founder/CEO.

The Team

I sat down with Edgar Goluch (Left,) founder of QSM Diagnostics. He has the academic credentials to back up QSM’s ambitious aims with degrees in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and bioengineering – not to mention post doc work on single molecule detection at Delft University.

Most electrochemical single molecule detection work is done on the nervous system detecting neuron transmission across synapses. However, Edgar was able to apply single molecule detection techniques to bacteria. One publication later and QSM Diagnostics was born.

Looking to the Future

Within 12 months, QSM wants to have a marketable veterinary diagnostic product. They will have the ability to test for 4 different bacterial infections representing the majority of potential infections within livestock/food supply. Further down the road, QSM would like to launch human diagnostic testing. Currently they are focusing on respiratory infections, but would like to branch out to varied bacterial infections including STDs. Ideally, one diagnostic strip could test for multiple different infectious bacteria simultaneously.

Another potential opportunity for the company is integrating their diagnostic products into bandages, so that injured patients can keep track of whether or not they develop infections. This would be particularly helpful for diabetic patients that constantly have open sores. Overall, QSM would like to provide early warning detection for multiple different infectious bacteria and have the technology to do so.

For more information please visit the website at www.qsmdiagnostics.com or contact the team at  goluch@qsmdiagnostics.com
"Electrochemical devices with microscale wires were made with palladium to create "stable reference electrodes" for sensing a specific compound created by a harmful strain of bacteria."

- Full article featuring QSM's technology can be found in Material Innovation Product Design By Andrew H. Dent & Leslie Sherr
Edgar Goluch, PhD (Left,) Hunter Sismaet, PhD Cand. (Center,) Craig Sockol, President, United Esoterics (Right.) receiving an award for their research from the National Science Foundation