Johnson & Johnson has partnered with San Diego-based Cue to develop a cheap, portable and Internet-enabled HIV test.
The viral load test would help doctors in poor countries find out if a particular drug regimen is working or not.
The San Diego startup, founded in 2009, raised $7.5 million in late 2014 to develop its core project: an at-home diagnostic test for testosterone, fertility, inflammation, vitamin D, and influenza. Sherpa Ventures (co-founded by early Uber backer Shervin Pishevar) led the startup’s round.
The “lab in a box” device allows users to insert a small bodily fluid sample into a cartridge, which analyzes the sample and shoots lab results to a mobile device via Bluetooth. The idea was to create a consumer health product that may one day be as ubiquitous as the household thermometer, helping individuals keep tabs on their health without needing to visit a doctor and lab.
In early 2015, Cue’s founder and CEO Ayub Khattak told San Diego Business Journal that the company planned to obtain FDA approval of the device by late 2015, but Cue has yet to announce regulatory approval.
The company planned to sell the Cue for $199, and one-time-use cartridges designed for specific uses will start at $4 apiece. Cue planned to generate its profits around these cartridges rather than the device itself, Khattak said.
The recent deal with Johnson & Johnson indicates that Cue is widening its scope. The J&J-Cue HIV viral load test is intended to improve disease management for people living with HIV all over the world, especially in places with large HIV-infected populations such as Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.