Soon, first and third-world doctors alike will use bio-tech sensors, software applications, health clouds, and artificial intelligence to preventively diagnose sickness in its incipient stages of development just as easily as we now track heart rates through our smartphones.
And thanks to Miami-based bio-technology startup Entopsis, tiny villages in Africa, Brazil, and Sri Lanka will have access to a quick, cheap, and effective testing method for early detection of any disease or abnormality present in any liquid.
The future of Western medicine also lies in diagnostic technology that provides early detection of any sign of aberration from a normal, healthy body.
Basically, these new methods of detection will tell doctors about your pancreatic cancer before it has a chance to kill you. And it will mean simple fluid withdrawals will replace invasive procedures like Pap smears and colonoscopies. Furthermore, one fluid sample will be tested for multiple diseases at once.
Obdulio Piloto is the Miami bio-technology entrepreneur who, with partner Ian Cheong, founded Entopsis. Their company has invented and patented a microscope slide with molecule binding pockets that create patterns you take a smartphone pic with, and upload to their cloud server for machine-intelligent analysis.
His company is funded by a large grant from the Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs, started by the guy who invented Pay Pal, and also by a microgrant from the Awesome Foundation, which has an active Miami chapter. So the team at Pacific54 caught up with Obdulio to find out exactly what Entopsis is, how the Nutec they invented will change the world, and the power of the technology they have harnessed to create a better future for humanity.
Check Out His Interview on Entopsis Below
What is your background?
My family is from Cuba, and I was born in New Jersey. But I was raised in Miami.
What decided you and your partner on setting up your headquarters here in Miami?
The tech scene is definitely growing from what I can tell. I like the fact that the cost of living is better here than in other typical high tech hubs like San Francisco and Boston, and I like the Latin American and European connections in Miami. Plus the weather’s pretty nice .
So, I found you guys through your grant from Miami’s Awesome Foundation, but I was surprised there’s not more hype around you locally.
We haven’t really done much marketing. Our funders are on the West Coast and they tend to gravitate to the crazier, more revolutionary ideas. That’s a tougher sell on the East coast.
How’d you come up with the name Entopsis?
Ent in Greek means “Within,” and Opsis means “To See,” so “to see within the body,” or within animals, or within a sample. Seeing molecules within liquid samples
What is Entopsis?
So, we’re basically developing a universal diagnostic platform. A platform that just about any person with no training can use to develop assays to test for just about any condition they want. Someone could use our platform to test for breast cancers or colorectal cancer or infections, but that same platform can be used for food safety to see if contaminated or water or soil. Especially in baby formulas and baby food and stuff. So it can be used, there’s one guy I talked to a while back. I had a winemaker who asked if he can use to optimize to make wine. I said yeah definitely.
The way it works is it captures individual molecules, proteins and cells from any sample and creates a pattern that’s then analyzed using machine learning to determine what that means. Breast cancer, yes or no and the computer system actually tells the person how confident the computer is. So it could say ‘Well, I’m not that sure, I am very sure that you have.’
How did it come about?
My business partner and I always wanted to start a company but it’s difficult: you need to find money, you have bills to pay, you ask yourself how are you gonna pay your bills. We brainstormed a lot of ideas and this was funded by Breakout Labs in San Francisco, they’re the first ones that really believed in our idea and trusted us. They gave us money and a lot of support to get the idea in to prototype.
This came about because we both have a background in medicine and research. Small molecules, proteins, diseases and stem cells. We were thinking about problems that exist that no one has addressed. It would be awesome to come up with easy, low-cost, highly versatile platform For many different applications. We look at many small molecule and protein interactions at the atomic level. It’s just a bunch of pictures on how molecules interact with each other.
We could maybe recreate these structures at low cost and do better than what nature does. And we then just learned programming along the way, material science, nanotechnology, biochemistry, and basically applying what’s been established with mobile apps. The whole idea is you buy one of our chips, test your sample, take a picture of the pattern with your phone, and that goes to our cloud system which analyzes the pattern and that tells you positive or negative for what you’re testing.
What is Nutec?
It’s a one time use diagnostic tool. That’s mainly because if you put your blood on the Nutec, probably nobody eles is ging to want to use it. It’s basically a piece of glass modified at the nano scale. So it’s a piece of glass that has very small binding pockets that bind to individual molecules. Imagine a baseball mitt and a baseball, so the mitt changes shape when you catch a baseball.
That’s how the moleculesflow into the Nutec’s binding pockets. You can also think of it like a key and a lock. There’s one key for every lock, and in the Nutec, there’s one molecule for every pocket. Some molecules are similar, so they can fit into that pocket, but less well. It’s a way of capturing molecules in a sample. But the pockets can fit similar molecules. So you can capture small changes.
The pockets bind to molecules. So a molecule fits in a pocket, it then creates a signal that gives you a signature. The uncomplicated thing is that the Nutec has a bunch of little circles, each of them are surfaces, and each surface has different pockets of different sizes.
One little spot on the Nutec could bind to many molecules that are similar to each other, and then we carry out a proprietary technique that creates a signal in each little spot in the Nutec. Each spot creates a unique pattern, and that pattern depends on the kind of molecules that are bound to that spot.
The algorithm, when it counts all the spots, it sees a signature within a signature. That’s how we capture so much complexity in a small Nutec. We capture molecules, cells, and proteins because we use signatures within signatures.
This is a solution for developing and third world countries?
Yes. It’s low cost and you can test multiple things at the same time. Any liquid sample. You can pee on the nutec and it can tell you if you have bladder cancer. But it can screen you for five different cancers at the same time too. The cool thing is you don’t have to have an enormous machine, and you can do it at a very low price only using one Nutec and one blood sample. For Colorectal cancer screening you need to do colonoscopy, which is a major pain.
So using blood is far more comfortable. And if you can do this every year, you can catch cancers early. Breast cancer, same thing. It’s so cheap that why not. Maybe you only care about screening for prostate cancer, but if the price is the same to test for 5 cancers at the same time, then you’re gonna do it. And maybe you only care about your prostate, but during testing you find that you have cancer of the pancreas. If you catch it early, it’s very treatable.
Steve Jobs died of Pancreatic cancer, and he had a lot of money and good doctors, and they still didn’t catch it early. And the reason why is, there’s no symptoms till the end, and at the end you’re already dying. So we have a solution for testing for various diseases that show no symptoms, but that are treatable with early detection. That saves lives, and reduces health care costs.
There are many possibilities in many areas, like testing animals for infections. Human diseases often start in birds and pigs. There’s a company who is already interested in using our platform to test birds and pigs for diseases before they become pandemic like H1N1.
What is the solution for the lack of connectivity in some places?
Smart phones are definitely expanding worldwide, even in third world countries. And so is Wifi. Google and other companies are creating solutions for that so that it will be less of a problem in the future. You really just need one smart phone per village to be able to test.
Does this strategy work in concert with the rapid development of mobile technology in Africa?
Yeas! They have leapfrogged computers and gone straight to mobile. And, in Africa they already exchange money basically through cell phones. That’s an African invention. It’s a safer way for them. African mobile currency is a huge topic. So the technology is there or getting there already.
Have you had any interaction with Peter Thiel, the dude who invented Paypal?
It’s his foundation that were the first to believe in us. He is the head of the Thiel Foundation, which oversees Breakout Labs. And Breakout gave us the initial funding for this project. And they still support us by trying to connect us with key investors, partners, good lawyers, basically, the right people to help us get a good deal. They’re very active and very supportive.
Are you patented?
Yes, fully patented and looking for just a few additional investors. We really just need $500,000, which is not very much, and that’s both good and bad. Some people want to give us a lot more, like ‘well how about if you take $3 million?’ But we just don’t need that much money, or want to give up that control.
With $500,000 we can scale up and have a full platform. We’ll be able to translate the protoype to the full commercial platform.
With CareCloud, and Open Peak, and all of the other companies who have been able to raise mass amounts of venture capital in South Florida, why do you think medical technology is so advanced here?
For one, because of all the retirees. But you also have many people from Latin America who come here for medical care, and also the many Europeans who take extended vacations here.
Are you looking to sell to a bigger corporation?
Currently we want to keep it our thing. We wan to try to do as much as good as possible with the technology as we can for the world. But at some point, because of the investors, we might not have any option but to sell. Investors can force you to sell. But at least right now the focus is to build the best platform possible to help as many people as possible.