I’m excited to announce our newest recommendation, Delee. Delee is building an early cancer detection and analysis system called CytoCatch. Delee’s system works by identifying what are known as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood and analyzing them using artificial intelligence.
Delee’s system uses a technique commonly called a “liquid biopsy.” It uses a blood sample to detect cancer, instead of a traditional invasive biopsy. According to Wikipedia’s page on CTCs, a liquid biopsy can have a number of advantages over traditional biopsy procedures. (Editor’s Note: We don’t normally cite Wikipedia as an authority. But this explanation is well-done. We’ve read the research.)
The detection of CTCs, or liquid biopsy, presents several advantages over traditional tissue biopsies. They are non-invasive, can be used repeatedly, and provide more useful information on metastatic risk, disease progression, and treatment effectiveness. For example, analysis of blood samples from cancer patients has found a propensity for increased CTC detection as the disease progresses. Blood tests are easy and safe to perform and multiple samples can be taken over time. By contrast, analysis of solid tumors necessitates invasive procedures that might limit patient compliance.
Delee is currently testing an early prostate cancer detection prototype. Its system combines hardware and artificial intelligence to automate the process of detecting and analyzing CTCs. Here is how the company describes its technology on its website:
At Delee, we aim to radically change the way cancer is detected, monitored and treated. Through the development of the CytoCatch™, which is a highly sensitive automated benchtop device, we have made possible to rapidly isolate and efficiently analyze circulating tumor cells from blood samples.
The CytoCatch™ is comprised of a fully automated sample processing unit and an imaging system which, along with the embedded artificial intelligence it possesses, inhibits human mistakes due to manual sample handling, and suppresses subjective interpretation errors.
This innovative technology enables not only the early detection of cancer, but also the continuous monitoring of the disease’s evolution and the effectiveness of therapies that are being administered; increasing the patient’s chances of defeating cancer.
CytoCatch has the potential to be a far more accurate way to diagnose cancer at early, more treatable stages. Ongoing testing could also provide valuable information about the disease’s progress.
Accepted Into Top Startup Accelerators
Delee graduated from the Winter 2017 Y Combinator class. Y Combinator (YC) is one of the world’s top startup accelerator programs. Its alumni include Airbnb, Stripe, DoorDash and many more. YC is also extremely selective. It’s tough to get into the program.
During its current fundraise on Republic, Delee was also accepted into StartX Med. StartX Med was created by Stanford University and Stanford Health Care to assist the most promising medical technology startups. StartX Med will provide a huge number of benefits to Delee – including access to world-class advisors, leading technology and top investors.
Here’s an excerpt from Delee’s recent update announcing that it is joining StartX Med.
The program offers wet/dry lab space, animal testing facilities, clean rooms, and specialized advisory on med-tech intellectual property and the FDA approval process to medical companies. More than 135 Medical companies have gone through StartX Med, raising over $920M+ in cumulative funding across all medical fields, and 24 of them were granted FDA approvals over the past four years.
We are incredibly excited to start working with them right away! We’ll be talking with experts from the FDA, Medicare, USPTO, Stanford BioDesign Program, Google Health, Genentech, Roche, etc., to refine the best strategy for bringing our technology to everyone. We are quite confident that the following weeks will bring lots of new collaborations with extraordinary people that will help us a lot.
StartX (StartX Med is a smaller part of StartX) is a very prestigious accelerator, and its graduates include huge winners, such as Patreon, Lime, Life360, Bolt and Branch Metrics. This is an extremely positive development for Delee.
Delee plans to use a “razor and blades model” in selling its product. It will sell the equipment at a flat price and then generate recurring revenue by selling the reagents and other consumables necessary to perform tests. This model has the potential to be very lucrative.
The company’s ultimate success will depend on FDA approval, which it does not expect until 2023. However, Delee says it expects to sell the CytoCatch system to research labs and pharmaceutical companies before it gets FDA approval. To this end, it has already presold $1.3 million worth of devices.
Delee’s founder, Liza Velarde, provided more specifics in the discussion (Q&A) section on Republic.
Q: Is this product still being made or is it being manufactured and sold already?
A: As we speak, we are working on the development of the commercial prototypes; we expect to have them ready by the end of Q4 2020.
Many of the initial commercial prototypes will be delivered to our strategic partners to increase the speed at which clinical data is gathered. They also will help us with third party validation and early revenue of the company.
We are open to new pre-orders, but it is essential to understand that these new units are for research purposes in hospitals and universities in any country. We cannot sell our devices for diagnostics until 2023 when we expect approval from the FDA.
The good news is that with the collaboration of our partners worldwide, we can work in parallel to expand the range of potential clinical validations. These include different types of cancers, therapy monitoring, measurement of residual disease, metastasis detection, drug resistance development detection, etc.
Delee is a long-term investment, and we shouldn’t expect revenue to start ramping up dramatically until after FDA approval (estimated to arrive in 2023). However, it is encouraging that Delee has plans to generate revenue while it works toward regulatory approval.
Delee is a high-risk, high-reward investment. If it gets the product right, Delee has the potential to be a multibillion-dollar company. The valuation on this funding round is capped at $10 million, which is reasonable and gives investors plenty of upside.
I strongly recommend reviewing Delee’s investment page on Republic, its site and the discussion section on Republic if you have more questions. You can also read the team members’ biographies and see their deep experience in software, hardware and business development.
How to Invest
Delee is raising up to $1.07 million on Republic. If you haven’t registered for an account on Republic, you will need to do so to invest. Once you’re signed up and logged in to your Republic account, go to Delee’s investment page here.
Click the blue invest button, and follow the instructions.
Delee has already raised an impressive $559,174. This round may fill up, so if you’re considering an investment, I recommend doing it soon. The minimum investment is only $50 on this deal, which we love to see. Investing in a large number of opportunities maximizes your chances of hitting a big winner.
Like all early-stage investments, this one is very risky. Delee is building a complex piece of medical equipment. Success will require excellent execution on both the hardware side and the software side. This is no small task, but the potential rewards are large. Delee’s CytoCatch system has the potential to improve outcomes for patients with many different types of cancer. All things considered, I believe it offers an excellent risk-reward ratio.