Smartphone spectroscopy kit brings blood test info home

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The Cor cartridges each have a fine needle that takes a surface-level blood sample when pressed against the arm(Credit: Cor)

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According to Bob Messerschmidt, founder and CEO of Cor, "the greatest barrier for people to live a healthy life is really information." His company has developed a blood testing kit that is aimed at making health information available in the home that might otherwise remain hidden in doctors' surgeries.

"The idea was: what if we could bring blood chemistry testing directly to the home so that people could use that as a tool to know whether the things that they're doing to maintain a state of health and wellness are really working properly?" explains Messerschmidt. This would make it easier for people to get an understanding of what is going on inside their bodies and track their own health.

Cor isn't the first company to harness smartphones in a bid to make blood test info more readily available. Previously we've seen them used to monitor diabetes, to detect HIV and syphilis markers and to scan for parasitic worms. Like those examples, Cor uses a smartphone in tandem with additional pieces of kit.

The Cor kit comprises a web and smartphone app (initially for iOS, with an Android version planned), a blood reader and single-use cartridges that are used to take blood samples. The cartridges each have a fine needle that takes a surface-level blood sample when pressed against the arm. The process is said to be both quick and painless, with the cartridges able to be ordered on a subscription basis.

Once a blood sample has been taken, the cartridge is slotted into the reader for analysis. The reader employs vibrational spectroscopy, which uses infrared light to identify chemicals in the blood. Analysis is said to take a matter of minutes, and data extracted by the reader is sent to the cloud and processed using Cor's algorithms. Cor says that all data is encrypted and that it follows best practice and HIPAA guidelines. The interpreted data is then returned to the user via the accompanying app, along with tailored recommendations.

The app is designed to explain data in a straightforward manner, with its reports detailing health indicators like cholesterol (HDL, LDL and total), fasting blood glucose, inflammation (fibrinogen), and triglycerides. Tailored recommendations for improving the user's health are also provided, such as changes to diet, supplements, relaxation and exercise. These are based on the user's own experiences, guidance from the firm's "medical advisory board" and data from other users in the Cor community.

Charts and graphs show the progress of each of the user's health metrics over time, with users able to submit information to the community about what changes have been successful in improving aspects of their health. Cor recommends taking weekly readings.

The company says that its device produces similar data to that of blood tests by doctors and has a similar level of accuracy. Despite this, the firm stresses that it is "making only general wellness claims" and that the product should be treated as supplementary to proper medical care, like other fitness and health trackers.

An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for Cor is under way. At the time of writing, pledges for Cor kits start at US$199, which includes a three-month cartridge subscription, after which a subscription costs around $10 a month. Each user must have their own cartridge subscription and the cartridges are not available individually. Assuming all goes to plan with the roll-out of the product, delivery is expected from October this year.

The video below is the Indiegogo pitch for Cor.

Sources: Cor, Indiegogo

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