citybiz+ TEDCO-backed Astek Diagnostics Closes Strategic Funding Round

Astek Diagnostics has closed on a strategic funding round led by She’s Independent, an angel investing group based in Boulder, Colo. The Baltimore startup’s backers include a clutch of Maryland entities — TEDCO, Maryland Momentum Fund, Goldin Ventures, Maryland Innovation Initiative, Maryland Industrial Partnerships, Wexford Scitech Venture Fund and the Abell Foundation.

Other investors include Y Combinator, AYANA Capital, Harvard Management Seed Capital, Key Technologies and some angel investors. Astek, founded in 2020, has previously received funding from the National Science Foundation, the FDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and the National Institute of Health.

Detecting Urinary Tract Infection

Astek has developed a diagnostic tool, Jiddu Analyzer, that has been designed to initially identify urinary tract infections, or UTIs, and evaluate antibiotic sensitivity. The tool, which can deliver results within an hour, is to be brought to market next year, before Astek pursues other uses for Jiddu Analyzer.

“Women, particularly menopausal women and expectant mothers, are disproportionately affected by UTIs,” said co-founder and CEO Mustafa Al-Adhami, an engineer with a Ph.D. from University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Such infections could complicate pregnancies, and even lead to kidney infections if undiagnosed, he added. “We believe our technology is a game-changer,” because it can rapidly detect UTIs, said Al-Adhami. The tool’s utility goes further, helping physicians use precise antibiotics and avoid antimicrobial resistance.

Other Use Cases

Astek expects to use the device for other medical conditions. The company has validated its underlying technology for evaluating cerebrospinal fluid to identify meningitis, effluent to detect surgical site infections, and blood to test for bacteremia.

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Besides signing a strategic partnership with Columbia, Md.-based nonprofit MedStar Health, Astek has initiated collaborations with three independent urology clinics to demonstrate the feasibility of the Jiddu Analyzer in small clinical studies, as it works its way toward FDA approval to sell the diagnostic tool.

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Early Backer
TEDCO first backed Astek via its Pre-Seed Builder Fund. Last year, it gave $250,000 more from its Seed Funds.

“The issue of bacteria resiliency affects us all,” Teddy Gresser, director of TEDCO’s Seed Funds, said last year. “Astek’s determination to fight against antibiotic resistance has potential to not only be a successful business venture, but also to change the way physicians operate, allowing for more accuracy and less complications.”