South African Healthtech Startup BioCODE secures $473k

South African Healthtech Startup BioCODE secures $473k

Stellenbosch University (SU) and Innovus startup that focuses on developing health and disease risk screening solutions, BioCODE, has secured $473k funding from University Technology Fund (UTF).

BioCODE was launched in 2008 by Prof Resia Pretorius, Prof Anna-Mart Engelbrecht and Prof Willie Perold with the aim of commercializing a multiplexing system used in clinical testing, life science research, medicine, and the AgBio field using its Applied BioCode system.

Overtime, BioCODE has designed and developed multiplex bioassay solutions, offering Barcoded Magnetic Beads, a platform that focuses on gene mutation analysis, drug resistance genotyping, and routine clinical diagnostics and BioCode-1000 Analyzer, an imaging system. Additionally, it provides developmental guidance, testing, and feasibility services.

“We are currently developing a rapid test to detect the inflammatory molecule Serum Amyloid A (SAA) in a drop of blood” said Prof Pretorius co-founder and head of Stellenbosch University’s Physiological Sciences Department in the Faculty of Science (Managing Director).

“SAA and other inflammatory molecules increase when a person has inflammation. Cardiovascular disease, Type-2 diabetes, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, acute COVID and even pheno-type long COVID have increased inflammatory molecules like SAA in circulation.

“These inflammatory molecules cause blood to become sticky, and the result is a heart attack, deep vein thrombosis or even a stroke. With the BioCODE rapid test of SAA, they can detect the molecule fast enough in blood for early risk identification.

Prof. Pretorius also spoke on the availability of the SAA test adding that BioCODE will go on to produce more disease screening tools.

“Anyone can do a test for SAA, and results are available within minutes. The results are integrated with our Internet of Things (IoT) platform that provides an interface to monitor patient results.

Our goal is that the rapid test will be the first of many disease risk screening tools that BioCODE will develop. Ultimately, we want to lead the biotech movement in South Africa towards accessible preventative health care, and we want to empower people to take charge of their own health,” said Prof. Pretorius.

Speaking on the investment, chief director of Innovus, the university’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Division, said, “From small beginnings, this team has worked hard and is now nearly ready to bring their innovation to the market.

“Innovus Technology Transfer and Stellenbosch University LaunchLab have been working very closely with the team and supported them in protecting their intellectual property, setting up the company, forming partnerships, and raising investment and funding.”

This investment will enable BioCODE fund its current development of a rapid inflammation test that can be used as a screening and monitoring tool for inflammation and inflammatory conditions.