Apple alum gets into direct-to-consumer blood tests with wellness-focused, connected device Cor

By Jonah Comstock
01:34 pm

A former Apple executive has launched an Indiegogo campaign for Cor, his two-year-old consumer blood tracking startup formerly known as Neuon. Bob Messerschmidt worked on optics and spectrometry for the Apple Watch for three years after his previous startup, Rare Light, was quietly acquired by Apple.

The company already has $1 million in seed funding, according to a report in TechCrunch, but is going to Indiegogo to assess and build up consumer interest in the product after two years of internal development. That included a soon-to-be-published clinical trial and partnerships with Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Clinimark, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Founders Den, Health eHeart, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, QB3, and Stanford Medicine UCSF, according to Cor's campaign page.

"Cor is a powerful general wellness product that delivers personalized and customized health insights, while tracking your key health indicators through your blood," Messerschmidt wrote on Indiegogo. "We recommend taking weekly readings to see your health trends, using the single-use Cor Cartridges available on a subscription basis. Health is the most important thing we have. So why not track it as often, and as well as possible? The Cor Product is designed to make it easy for you to get an in-depth understanding of what's going on inside your body -- in just minutes at home. Set goals. Track your health trends. And get insights into exactly how you can improve your health and wellness."

TechCrunch pointed out the obvious comparison to Theranos, the blood testing startup that's been in the news lately after allegedly overstating the capabilities of its minimally invasive blood test. The report noted that Cor's proposition is different: it's not seeking FDA clearance as a medical device, at least at first, but instead offering wellness insights to consumers. 

"We hope, although we obviously cannot guarantee, that the FDA will finalize their draft guidance on Low Risk General Wellness Products," the company wrote in its FAQ. "Once the guidance does become in final form, there may be a need for Cor to adjust our claims or our product in some ways to remain in this category. We are ready for that and committed to an open transparent regulatory and scientific approach. In the unlikely event that this is not feasible to go to market as a general wellness product, we would pursue one of the existing FDA approval routes. We will get there one way or the other."

Perhaps a better comparison than Theranos is Segterra, maker of InsideTrackera wellness-focused blood testing startup aimed at athletes that raised $2.5 million in 2014. InsideTracker is available in different packages that range from $49 to $499 and include options for going to a blood lab, having a phlebotomist make a house call, or getting a home test kit in the mail. Cor fits in roughly the same price range as InsideTracker, with a plan to retail the device for $299, for a reader device and three months of cartridges, which are disposable at-home devices for drawing blood. 

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