Campus spotlight

Detecting kidneys’ silent shout: NewGen health aims to improve patient outcomes

Mazhar Shahen pitches at the finals of winter'24 Velocity pitch competition

The kidney is a silent organ with no pain sensors.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic kidney disease is a worldwide public health problem, but they say it is possible to slow or stop the progression of the disease with early diagnosis and treatment.

This is where NewGen Health comes in, a startup working with Velocity on campus, co-founded by Mazhar Shahen (BASc ’22), a graduate student in the Faculty of Engineering, and Shiv Naik (BSc ’22), research assistant in the Faculty of Science. They are looking to bring a rapid kidney disease testing solution to market.

“Our technology detects the earliest sign of kidney disease using a rapid pee- on-a-stick solution coupled with software, giving doctors instant feedback and monitoring,” said Shahen. “This can also reduce clinical costs and help patients avoid invasive blood-tests and repeated physician visits.”

He said kidney disease diagnostics rely on specialist referrals, invasive diagnostics and multiple health care visits before patients get a treatment plan. But with NewGen Health, the most vulnerable patients are more easily assessed as the technology provides physicians with a reliable, non-invasive tool to accurately detect kidney disease biomarkers on the spot at an in-office visit.

NewGen Health said its solution can reduce diagnostic costs by up to 90 per cent.

The startup looks to continue building on its success to date, which includes filing patents and launching prototypes. They’ve already begun scaling the production process, bringing it a step further to making this solution become reality.

“With a disease that is often unfelt, how can we get patients to comply when tests are invasive and time consuming?” Shahen said. “Later stage kidney disease diagnosis often leads to dialysis, so this type of early detection opens the doors to better disease management and outcomes for the patient.”