Allergy Amulet Raises $1.1M for Device That Detects Food Allergens
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your food. The next step is to place the test strip into a handheld device, which in a minute or less will indicate the presence or absence of peanut particles in the sample.
The strips are coated with polymers containing “synthetic cavities within which the target molecule binds, like a lock into a key,” Barnes says. “Upon binding, a chemical reaction occurs. We can measure the resistance based off of that chemical reaction,” which is enough to produce a readout.
Allergy Amulet does not claim the device it’s developing can prevent allergic reactions, Barnes says. It’s meant to be an additional check for diners who have taken all the precautionary measures they normally would, she says.
Barnes says she expects that Allergy Amulet’s sample readers would cost $100 to $300, and test strips would go for between $1 and $3 apiece.
Initially, each strip will target a single allergen, Barnes says. Eventually, the company wants to sell strips that can accommodate multiple-allergen testing, she says.
The startup is focusing on peanuts for now, and plans to target milk and eggs next. Both are among the eight most common allergenic foods, according to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004.
“Depending on how one of our competitors, Nima, fares in the market, we will then pivot to gluten,” Barnes says. San Francisco-based Nima says that the first shipments of its portable gluten tester are going out this fall. Nima’s antibody-based technology is distinct from Allergy Amulet’s, Barnes says.
Part of Allergy Amulet’s long-term plan is to enable the device to share information with smartphones and be able to attach to necklaces and other accessories, Barnes says. But the initial version of the company’s product is not going to be a wearable, she says.
Food allergies is an area that’s long overdue for innovation, Barnes says, and that’s something her team is seeking to change.
“I think as a society, we can do more for food allergy sufferers,” she says. “I have had food allergies my entire life. It’s still the same old EpiPen that I’ve been carrying around since I was a kid. At this stage, there’s very little beyond just avoiding the food.”