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Jordi Carrera

CEO, STAT-Diagnostica

Jordi Carrera is the CEO of STAT-Diagnostica, the company developing DiagCORE, an in-vitro diagnostic system that will allow medical staff to carry out up to fifteen molecular diagnosis and immunoassay tests.

DiagCORE, the result of more than five years of work, is technology that will provide decentralized molecular and immunoassay diagnosis quickly and precisely. The system is designed to shorten turnaround times and replace traditional testing and cultures for critical patients that require treatment urgently. Among other advantages, the analyzers have no wet interfaces with the test cartridges, eliminating all cross-contamination sources while avoiding the need for post-PCR rooms. DiagCORE could be available on the European market by 2016.

STAT-Diagnostica is one of the companies that have participated in the BioEmprenedorXXI program promoted by Barcelona Activa, Biocat and "la Caixa", an initiative aimed at supporting researchers with business ideas that want to set up a company in the life sciences arena. 

What are the advantages of this platform for diagnostic tests?

We automate the whole process, which normally requires a laboratory technician and tends to be slow and arduous. With this technology, we offer fast, precise molecular diagnosis and immunoassay tests. So, for example, our molecular diagnostic test would replace a hospital’s culture test to detect an infection and offers a battery of tests for pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, etc.

And for immunoassay diagnosis?

This is the typical laboratory test that, for example, is used to detect a very severe infection. Our technology allows doctors to know how bad the infection is more quickly. We can offer a whole battery of tests according to the hospital’s needs.

How many tests can the DiagCORE do?

In 2016, we’ll launch our first line of products on the market, but we can’t yet reveal the details.

Is there a limit to the number of diagnostic tests it can do?

Yes, there is a limit but it isn’t based on the number of tests. The limit is the result of its use in emergency medical situations. The machine can work 24 hours a day and do test after test, with 15 to 20 possible applications per diagnostic line, always with a genuine commercial interest.

So, you’ll start with tests for high-incidence diseases.

The first round of products will be for respiratory infections, as they are very prevalent and because the type of therapy administered is highly dependent on proper diagnosis. Our technology is specifically designed to provide solutions for critical patients when the speed of diagnosis can impact patient management and cut healthcare costs. It doesn’t make sense to use this technology if there isn’t a clinical emergency. Those tests can be done in the central laboratory.

So, your market will be hospitals with emergency care facilities.

Yes, for emergency rooms, for the ICU. That’s our niche.

Is the idea to reach agreements with public health systems?

Yes, that’s part of the commercial side. We have ideas but don’t want to announce anything publically yet.

Will the speed and precision you offer cut healthcare costs?

We have to compete in terms of price. However our main goal isn’t to cut costs; it’s to provide a quick response for clinical applications in which time is a factor. Now, it’s true that responding more quickly in certain critical cases allows doctors to design a faster treatment with the positive side effect of lowering costs. It also helps avoid costly, unsuitable treatment and reduce the number of hospital admissions. DiagCORE provides faster, more precise diagnostic tests and allows for more accurate administration of drugs.

And the European market in 2016?

Yes. We’re in the pre-industrial phase, putting the finishing touches on the machines, tests, reactives, etc. and preparing to scale up, to begin to mass produce and launch the system on the European market. We will have spent just over five years developing and scouting for investors. In 2011, we started with two Spanish investors, in 2013 we did another round of funding with foreign investors and now have a pool of six investors.

What are the investment needs?

In our case, there are significant financial needs and this is why we’ve sought out venture capital and not public funds. We believed it was the only way to do what we wanted to do the way we wanted to do it. So far we’ve received €20 millions but to launch to market we need more.

Have you had a positive response from investors to developing this technology?

Over the past year, large companies have entered this sector because they’ve seen that they can improve patient care with this type of technology. This means large companies from the sector are looking for this technology. This is important for us because we’re funding this through venture capital and we have to provide an exit strategy for our current investors. The company’s outlook is highly pragmatic, very focused on providing the best possible exit for our investors.

Have you thought about launching it on the US market as well?

Although the system has been designed and developed to comply with US regulatory requirements, we are only making specific commercial plans for the European market for the moment.

Will that be the next step?

Yes. In fact, 65% of the molecular diagnosis market is in the United States and this market is highly receptive to new technology. There are many advantages, including the fact that it is one single market. In Europe, the breakdown of the different markets is complicated. It requires greater marketing and diversification efforts in order to penetrate relatively small markets. However, in the Untied States, a much more limited effort can reach 400 million people.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

We have some highly interesting projects lined up but we can’t announce them yet… We’re assessing various options, some focused on content for this same technology, but we can’t go public with them yet because we haven’t tied anything down. But it all focuses on the same line of business. 

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