Solvemed, a company developing ocular biomarkers for diagnosis of neurological disease, has secured £3.2 million investment.

Solvemed examines people’s eyes for signs of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. 

Currently, these diseases cause an estimated 10 million deaths per year, with limited treatment options for illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

The pharmaceutical industry has struggled to develop treatments for these diseases despite significant investment. In the US alone, neurodegenerative diseases cost more than $655 billion a year in medical expenses and economic losses.

Aged 17, co-founder Hugo Chrost began work on what would become Solvemed’s proprietary technology – driven, in part, by a family history of neurological conditions. He was subsequently joined by Dr Michal Wlodarski, who brought diverse academic and industrial experience in HealthTech innovation to Solvemed. 

“As a teenager, I saw the effect of neurological diseases on my family,” said CEO Chrost. “As a technology entrepreneur, I knew I wanted to find a better way to help doctors to clinically evaluate such diseases earlier and access better information for treatment before it’s too late. 

“This has started our work at Solvemed to develop a new way to analyse a patient’s brain, which would minimise costs for healthcare providers and avoid invasive procedures for patients.”

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Dr Wlodarski also has a family history of neurological disease. Together, they spotted the opportunity to leverage a patient’s eyes as a source of clinically valuable information about the brain.

Investors include a range of European and US venture capital firms including Atmos Ventures, APEX Ventures, Tensor Ventures, Preface Ventures, Techni Ventures, alongside Sunfish Partners who invested in the company at the pre-seed stage in December 2020. 

The latest investment round was also supported by a number of leading angel investors, including Cambridge and Atomico Angels, as well as one of the founders of Snowflake, the world’s largest data warehousing company.

Solvemed partners with leading healthcare providers and clinical researchers, including those based at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, and UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 

The startup intends to complete its initial regulatory submissions in the US and EU to then scale implementation of its product at health centres across Europe, UK, and US, and will seek pilot research and product co-development work with neuroscience-focused pharma and BioTech companies.

Dominik Andrzejczuk, MD of Atmos Ventures, added: “The eye represents a unique window to the brain that can be easily assessed via non-invasive ocular imaging. 

“The use of ocular biomarkers as a potential tool for early diagnosis of certain types of neurodegenerative diseases has been showing a lot of promise over the last several years. 

“Solvemed’s technology enables the capturing of these biomarkers to be done inexpensively and at scale, giving the company a competitive advantage in both technology and data acquisition.”

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