Mendonca Biomed is an early stage life science startup with the aim to develop and validate novel biomarker for the early detection of viral infections in blood with an affordable yet simple detection method that can be universally applied.
The company was originally founded by myself Kevin Mendonca in India based on his 15 years of accumulative research knowledge. Preliminary data on the utility of viral miRNA biomarkers for the screening of blood for transfusion transmitted viral infections, which are potentially superior to the currently available markers, and a simplified assay that is cost effective and can be universally adapted, were developed in India. However, due to an innate lack of infrastructure and funding opportunities in India, I applied for the startup Denmark program to move the company to the medicon valley. I recently moved to Demark, registered a privately owned company and currently in pursue of funding to validate the viral miRNA biomarkers for the early detection of HIV, HBV and HCV in donated blood.
Around the world, more than 92 million blood donations are collected every year. Screening of donated blood and derived products, for HIV, HBV and HCV is mandatory worldwide. Screening is a key safety measure in protecting recipients from transfusion transmitted infections, especially in developing nations in Africa and Asia, where the donated blood is not processed because of high costs and lack of infrastructure. Moreover, in emergency situation like natural calamities, disasters and sudden outbreaks, the currently available methods are inadequate for on-site screening.
Serological testing (antigen and antibody detection assays) have historically been the foundation of blood screening but with huge drawbacks of long window periods. Newer strategies like the PCR based amplification viral genomic DNA/RNA in blood have helped shorten the window period but have not eliminated it. PCR assays have also been known to fail in low viremia and/or suboptimal amplification efficiency. They are far more expensive than the serological assay, requires expertise, specialized equipment and a molecular biology setup, which is not available in the resource poor settings of the developing countries.
Our solution is to develop and validate novel viral miRNA biomarkers that have the potential to further reduce the window period and use the unique characteristics of these biomarkers to develop a simple, multiplex (3 in 1), inexpensive probe hybridization assay that can be universally utilized in all settings and conditions. Viral miRNA molecules are easy to validate as biomarkers since the presence of vmiRNA’s is a definite indicator of infected cells.
Multiplex 3 in 1 test.
Method as simple to perform as the serological assay with the benefits of a molecular assay.
Can be adapted in any setting, even in the field and low resource conditions in developing nations.
Potentially, lower window period of detection compared to any biomarkers that are available in the market currently.
High throughput, lower turnover time with lower chances of human error.
Advantages of a molecular assay with the simplicity and affordability of a serological assay.
Does not require specialized setup, infrastructure and highly trained technicians.
Potentially, could detect the infections faster than any other tests in the market, lowering the risk of transfusion transmission.
Once this platform has been validated, the product line can be expanded to cover all commercially viable viral infections. A HPV assay based on this platform, for example, could be a potential replacement for the invasive PAP test, and can be performed during a routine blood test. The platform can be further adapted to screen for novel viral infections like SARS, MERS, ZIKA etc. It can be also be developed to screen and control other sporadic outbreaks the like Dengue, Chikungunya etc.