June 25, 2021

Scanwell Receives $1.6M NIH Grant to Accelerate Development of Smartphone-Enabled, At-Home Test for Chronic Kidney Disease

Scanwell was recently awarded a $1.6M National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. The grant will provide funds for the continued development of our smartphone-enabled, at-home test for chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is estimated that more than 30 million people in the US have some form of kidney disease. Due to the asymptomatic nature of early CKD, many who have it are unaware: according to the National Kidney Foundation, approximately 90% of those with CKD don’t know they have it.

Currently there is no cure for chronic kidney disease. In its final stages, hemodialysis or a kidney transplant become necessary to live. Mortality rates for hemodialysis patients are shockingly high––only 42% of patients remain alive after five years of treatment. However, when diagnosed early enough, the progression of CKD to end-stage renal failure can be slowed with medications and lifestyle interventions.

The Scanwell test will make screening for and monitoring early CKD quick and easy. The company’s technology will allow patients to test themselves from home using only a urine test kit and their smartphones, resulting in earlier diagnosis and accelerated care. This at-home approach to lab testing is especially timely as the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a major shift to telehealth. According to McKinsey, healthcare providers are seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than before the pandemic.

"We want to live in a world where kidney disease never comes out of left field, but far too often, it does," said Stephen Chen, Founder and CEO of Scanwell. "We developed this technology to give an early warning, which will dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of people.”

Though the CKD test is not yet commercially available, an early version is currently being used by researchers at Kaiser Permanente, Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, the University of Pennsylvania and others as part of the NIH-funded Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study. The new SBIR grant will enable Scanwell to continue development and validation, as well as conduct clinical studies before submitting the test to the Federal Drug Administration for review.