Startup from Porto shortlisted by EIT Health network in the field of digital health

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Miguel Nogueira

iLoF, the startup that already features important awards, namely being among the 150 most disruptive and innovative companies at world level in the field of digital health in 2020, is once again spotlighted at international level by the EIT Health network for its project to create a device that selects the most appropriate medication for each patient. Based on a blood sample, iLOF's technology is able to analyse multiple biological profiles and identify, for example, if a patient displays biomarkers that indicate Alzheimer, a more or less aggressive type of cancer, or if the patient is to develop acute symptoms related to Covid-19 or become asymptomatic.

The starting point to this project was Alzheimer. In 2019, the startup was selected to win an accelerator programme by EIT Health, the world leading Consortium in the health area. iLoF received two million euros to fight Alzheimer, through AI and photonics. iLoF researchers created an innovative portable finger print system that can house "digital fingerprints" of several neurodegenerative disorder, which enables rapid testing and involves minimally invasive procedures. It can be used to test brain tumour or Parkinson's, only using microliters of blood.

Luís Valente, iLoF’s cofounder, stated to Expresso last year “that a drug that only works on 20% of patients and not on the reaming 80% will no enter the market”; in turn, Joana Paiva, iLoF’s cofounder stated that "we want our device and algorithm to help choose the most suitable drug, according to physiology“.

And this is where AI and photonics come into play, as this technology helps validate the efficiency of using a certain drug in each patient. The procedure only takes a few minutes and can be performed by a nurse, using the Internet and anonymously running the sample through an algorithm provide by iLoF.

The positive results in the Alzheimer condition, led the research towards strokes and cancer pathologies. The startup also believes that the same techniques used with the screening of Alzheimer patients with different pathologies, including patients diagnosed with Covid-19, which enables to get to know the effect of the virus in each person and rapidly assess the best drug and personalise therapies.

“To predict the evolution of the infection may be adamant to perceiving if that person can or cannot be treated at home. Which means that this tool may be useful when it comes to managing resources in a hospital”, affirms Luís Valente.

Last year, iLoF - Intelligent Lab on Fiber, a spin-off born in INESC TEC and now incubated at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, was granted 2 million euros worth of support in the framework of Wild Card, an EIT Health Flush Programme, and the world's largest consortium in the health area for disruptive projects in this field.