The proverbial saying, “A stitch in time saves nine,” although ancient, finds relevance in today’s world, especially in healthcare. How amazing would it be if one could be pre-diagnosed for a disease before the ailment begins to cause symptoms?
Pre-diagnosis of conditions is possible through regular health monitoring that enables one to keep track of biomarkers in the body and recognize changes that may mean the start of a disease.
However, when it comes to carrying out continuous health check-ups, the feat is easier said than done. This problem arises because the most common method of undergoing a thorough health-checkup is still blood testing. Having a blood test done frequently is neither practical nor advisable for a multitude of reasons. The invasive procedure needs to be performed by health specialists, is a painful process for many, and can even have complications.
Moreover, many people avoid needle sticks. It is also financially challenging and time-consuming to visit a clinic regularly, and then wait another week to obtain the lab results. Solving this issue is even more imperative in the age of COVID-19.
These challenges inspired eNano Health Limited, an innovative healthcare startup, to delve further into the use of saliva testing in preventative screenings. Of all the body fluids, saliva is the easiest to obtain anytime and anywhere. The procedure of saliva-testing is non-invasive, woundless, blood-free, and has zero-risk of infections. Moreover, as per scientific research studies, there is a strong correlation between blood and saliva. Saliva-testing, much like blood-testing, can determine the biomarkers of many diseases. eNano Health has developed a series of non-invasive saliva testing solutions that are both available for home-use or as part of a wellness program. Individuals can perform their test and mail it.
The results are received via an app or email (depending on the protocol). One of their tests (Kiss and Tell) provides instant results regarding the amount of glucose based on the color the strip turns. The pinker it becomes, the more glucose is present in the body. Saliva tests are also affordable so that individuals can perform the tests frequently. These solutions measure the biomarker changes resulting from the body’s self-defense mechanism in response to disease and give early warning signs of developing health risks. “Our solutions are not intended to diagnose any existing disease but to empower individuals to monitor changes in their body (at home). We believe this would be a preferred choice by people who want to stay healthy rather than take medicines when they fall sick,” remarks Winnie Leung, Co-founder, and CEO, eNano. They are currently working with corporations that build healthcare programs for their employees, innovative medical practitioners looking for non-invasive ways to test their patients (in the very early stages of the disease), and insurance providers interested in risk/disease management and wellness tools.
The Kiss and Tell Saliva stick is their first instant results pro-active self-health monitoring solution. The user puts a few drops of saliva on the stick, and the strip shows the person’s glucose level via color codes, with the outcome being available in real-time. The results can then be uploaded on the ‘Kiss and Tell’ app on a smartphone.
Our solutions are not intended to diagnose any existing disease but to empower individuals to monitor changes in their body (at home). We believe this would be a preferred choice by people who want to stay healthy rather than take medicines when they fall sick
Another significant solution offered by eNano Health is the P4 test, which uses saliva testing for the comprehensive detection of disease risks. For example, to identify heart-stroke risk, the test checks for folate content in the saliva. Decreased Deficiency levels of folate may be associated with an increased risk of stroke. Similarly, it checks for insulin (and other markers) in the saliva so that individuals can take preventive measures in time to prevent the development of diabetes and other potential diseases. All the user has to do is provide one’s saliva on the P4 stick and send it to eNano Health for analysis. The company’s labs send out results electronically or via an app. Results can also be shared with the healthcare professionals to get an additional opinion on whether further testing is needed.
The success of its solutions has led eNano Health to begin COVID-19 viral infection testing through saliva. “When a virus hits the body, it usually goes through an incubation period, and a lot of times, there will be no symptoms. However, the body is already having some immune system response to the virus. That response is what we measure,” informs Winnie. By doing so, the Hong Kong-based startup aims at offering a solution that can give people an early warning sign of the onset of viral infection. When someone knows they have a viral infection, they can get further testing and go through self-quarantining and (use) anti-viral food and medicines to help the body fight against any virus. “This would be important and easy, as employees go back to work. Instead of expensive and invasive COVID tests (for all employees), only those with a viral indicator need testing for COVID-19. These regular and easy health screenings could help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses we may not yet be aware of,” suggests Winnie.
She believes that for accurate analysis of one’s health, there is a need for an organized and regular collection of health data gathered from an individual’s saliva. Therefore, eNano Health has developed a secure platform that records the health data received from a person’s tests. “So, we are not just a testing solution provider, but a full personal health information platform,” explains Winnie.
eNano Health has performed pilots throughout the world. In one example, Winnie mentions that a company in the US ran bi-annual health screenings using blood tests. Some employees were reluctant to undergo these invasive blood tests and found them inconvenient. Hence, the company was interested in a pilot of eNano Health’s non-invasive saliva-based testing program. eNano’s pilot test created a unique individualized program, potentially using saliva to monitor disease risks like pre-diabetes, cardiovascular, smoking, and stress. Consequently, the employees who participated (in the pilot) agreed that saliva testing would be a much more comfortable and preferred method to screen.
Equipped with the confidence from such success stories, the team at eNano Health plans to expand its set of solutions to provide a richer list of health information to their clientele. The company aims to expand and grow its presence globally, from Hong Kong to the US, UK, and Europe. “In the Asia Pacific, we are talking with various companies. We have established our lab there and are ready to launch our solutions for that market,” concludes Winnie.