During the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s current founder of Houndstoothe Analytics, Paul Viggiano — a musician with a background in biochemistry and radiology diagnostics — realized the world needed a “sincere” COVID-19 test. When he contracted the virus and witnessed firsthand how debilitating the disease was, Viggiano questioned why there was no definitive test on the market. To him, it was clear that the traditional rapid testing methods— that produced an astronomical rate of false negatives and positives— were flawed.
Viggiano had a mission: he wanted to make COVID-19 testing easier, more palatable, and more accurate for the consumer. After hatching his idea, half a year later, he turned to his friend Tom Bonitz, also a musician and a man with 30 years of professional pharmaceutical experience. Viggiano states, “It was not a work story. We were in a recording studio working on a project and the conversation came around to covid testing. It was clear that Tom had the scientific and technical experience to make this happen.” The two immediately bonded over their concerns with current COVID-19 testing technology. Then, they agreed to partner up.
That was 2.5 years ago. Today, Viggiano and Bonitz founded the New Jersey-based company Houndstoothe Analytics with the goal of enhancing and commercializing preexisting COVID-19 testing technologies.
Houndstoothe has partnered with the University of Florida, which is co-partnering with scientists at the National Yang-Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, to enhance and complete the development of the revolutionary “Biosensor Enhanced Signal Technology” (BEST) sensor using the University of Florida’s pre-existing saliva test.
“These scientists have dedicated their lives to this platform,” Viggiano states. “This is the highlight of their career and they deserve to be recognized.”
Houndtoothe Analytics’ BEST technology works by detecting evidence of COVID-19 deposited in proteins in saliva. This innovative approach utilizes strips that take a simple saliva test in one second. Houndstoothe calls this “Insight in an Instant.”
Bonitz states this test costs no more than $25-$30 for a durable, hand-held device that is smaller than an iPhone, and testing strips value less than $1 per use, making detection extraordinarily inexpensive. All one needs to do is touch the strip to their tongue. Within a second, the device will detect if the proteins within the sample indicate the coronavirus disease.
“The beauty of this test is that over a period of 3-5 days of a COVID-19 infection, this test allows you to know how much you were infected and when you were infected,” Viggiano states. With parameters set between 0-300 units, the apparatus will determine exactly how many units of an infection an individual has at the time of the test as well as the identification of antibodies relative to a COVID-19 infection. Any subsequent test allows for direct comparison with the first, as one can calculate exactly how much the infection could have increased or decreased.
“This is very much unlike PCR tests that tell you you’ve had COVID at one time or rapid tests which require two tests in a row to determine an accurate response,” Viggiano states.
Houndstoothe Analytics’ cutting-edge technology does not stop at revolutionizing COVID-19 testing. Bonitz states that this device is rapidly adaptable to any new viruses similar to COVID-19, as strips can be functionalized within a few months to test for specific proteins as soon as a virus might present itself.
Viggiano stresses that there is an inherent sociopolitical component to Houndsoothe Analytics undertakings when it comes to human healthcare. This is a disruptive innovation. Fundamentally, Houndstoothe Analytics is a company that wants to change peoples’ lives for the better, by putting digital diagnostic health in the hands of the patient. And they believe that this technology will prevail in doing so. “A transformation in the delivery of healthcare is happening. Right now. This technology will make that happen. That’s what we’re doing here,” he states.
One way that Houndstoothe Analytics plans to harness this technology is by impacting industrial farming. It’s no secret how poorly animals are treated in slaughterhouses and the abysmal conditions in which they live. However, a large proportion of these animals do not die for their intended purpose: they die due to rampant disease spreading through the livestock.
Viggiano and Bonitz acknowledge that farmers are not going to change their techniques or take measures to improve animal welfare and living conditions. As such, Bonitz says that if adopted by industrial farmers in the USDA, Houndstoothe Analytics’ inexpensive and accurate technology can track certain diseases by measuring the current rate of infection instantaneously. In this way, farmers can avoid the unnecessary death of animals, which will ultimately benefit both the conditions of the commercial farms and the farmers’ own livelihoods and prospects. And clearly, this extends into routine veterinary medicine.
Simultaneously, Houndstoothe Analytics developers are also working on saliva-based testing for the enzyme troponin relative to heart attacks, protein markers in breast cancer, and cholesterol. Bonitz states that University of Florida scientists are successfully working on the functionalization of testing strips to detect the correct markers in these disease profiles.
Viggiano states, “Typical tests for troponin can take up to 45 minutes. With our platform, we can have an EMT take a saliva test and determine within one second if an individual has a heart attack, resulting in faster treatment upon arrival at a hospital.”
Similarly, Houndstoothe plans to extend its technology to the clinical testing of breast cancer in women, as BEST can determine if the BRCA gene is present before patients even go in for initial imaging.
Viggiano and Bonitz quit their jobs in order to pursue a cause they believed in. Now, their efforts need to be recognized and aided for the benefit of society. While COVID-19 might not be as ominous a threat in the United States as it was 2.5 years ago, many countries still do not have proper testing facilities or equipment, and their populations still succumb to severe devastation. Houndstoothe Analytics’ affordable and reliable technology will work to combat the spread of COVID-19 around the world while doing the same for breast cancer, industrial farming, cholesterol, heart attacks, and many future developments.
Within the next 4 months, Viggiano and Bonitz along with partners Anthony Davino, Bill Pyzner, and John Nosta aim to partner with Pharma/Tech companies in order to have a final, miniaturized version of the testing device and functionalized testing strips that can detect COVID-19 and antibodies, as well as troponin and breast cancer to position the company for commercialization.
This company is currently looking at a $20 million valuation within the next month, possibly more. Currently self-funded, they are looking for outside investors, while actively seeking partnerships for clinical trials and testing.
Interested in learning more about Houndstoothe Analytics’ mission, goals, and investment opportunities? Connect with the team.
You may want to find out about other COVID-19 related updates and progressions here.