The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 25% of the world’s population suffers from anemia, which leads to negative downstream health problems such as fatigue, weakness, complications in pregnancy, and in extreme cases, even cardiac arrest.
Atlanta-based Sanguina, born out of research from clinicians and scientists at Georgia Tech and Emory University, believes their technologies can address critical gaps in anemia-related monitoring.
AnemoCheck Mobile, which launched today in the Google Play Store, builds upon techniques doctors have used traditionally to spot potential anemic patients. “Doctors have looked at the paleness of fingernail beds and other parts of the body for quite some time to gauge hemoglobin levels and determine whether someone is anemic or not,” CEO and co-founder Erika Tyburski told Hypepotamus. But a full iron-deficiency anemia diagnosis traditionally requires a complete blood test.
As the pandemic has expedited telemedicine and in-home care trends, AnemoCheck Mobile users take and upload a “fingernail selfie” to gauge blood hemoglobin levels. The photo is added to Sanguina’s image processing algorithm and HIPAA-compliant servers. Users, in turn, get a near-instant hemoglobin number which can help determine the next steps in their health and wellness decisions.
Hemoglobin levels are a “general sign of wellness or illness,” said Tyburski, making it important in preventing negative health problems. For Tyburski, the mobile app is an extension of Sanguina’s goal of “educating our users, engaging with them more, and empowering them to evolve their plan for health and wellness maintenance.”
Tyburski told Hypepotamus that Sanguina’s first app is best thought of in the same category of products as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, which help with healthy lifestyle and wellness maintenance. The non-invasive nature of technology can help make hemoglobin level tracking one of the vital signs that can be monitored at home, much like pulse and blood pressure.
Tyburski, who has long suffered from anemia, said she started working on the concept for Sanguina during her senior design class at Georgia Tech. The idea grew after seeing how other medical conditions, like diabetes, had improved at-home technology options for safer monitoring.
Her professor, Dr. Wilbur Lam, now serves as her co-founder and Chief Medical Officer. Tyburski says Lam, who is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and a clinical pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Emory, helped her transition from “student to a research tech to an entrepreneur.”
While Sanguina calls the Metro Atlanta area home, the team has brought on team members currently living in Texas, California, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Early on in that entrepreneurial journey, Tyburski recognized that Sanguina didn’t necessarily fit the traditional model of what a medical device company looked like. While Tyburski says there is room for B2B partnerships, the AnemoCheck Mobile is designed to “bridge the gap between what is offered in a hospital and what can help people at home.”
“Going direct-to-consumer isn’t scary, especially when people want more information.”
Earlier this summer Sanguina raised a $950,000 seed round from The Seed Lab and XRC Labs, and the team is expecting to close additional funding this coming January.