South Korea’s Soulbrain buys control of PixCell for blood analyzer devices

PixCell Medical, an Israeli maker of blood test analyzers, said Monday that South Korea’s Soulbrain Holdings has acquired all of the controlling shares of the company and has invested in the firm. This makes Soulbrain the majority shareholder of PixCell Medical. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is in line with the South Korean firm’s bid to transition from manufacturing semiconductors to the healthcare and in-vitro diagnostics space to boost growth, PixCell said in a statement. Soulbrain’s shares are traded on the Korean Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (KOSDAQ) exchange at a valuation of about $1 billion.

The company saw PixCell as a good fit for its strategy of entering the diagnostics and point-of-care testing space, the statement said.

PixCell Medical’s flagship product, the HemoScreen, is a low-cost, portable hematology analyzer that can perform a complete blood count at the point of care, using disposable cartridges that need no maintenance or calibration. Point-of-care is a term used for the point at which a clinician can deliver solutions and products while with the patient.

The HemoScreen requires a drop of blood from the finger, and within five minutes analyzes 20 standard CBC parameters, including red blood cells and five types of white blood cell. It identifies anomalous cells and hemoglobin levels. The device received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2018.

“We identified PixCell Medical as a company proven to have disruptive technology in the healthcare field and are proud to have them join the Soulbrain family,” said Dr. Nam Huh, head of Bio-Healthcare Division and vice president at Soulbrain. “Striving to acquire technologies that will serve as the foundation of future industry development is our focus, and we have diversified our business portfolio to include distribution of specialized diagnostic reagents and miniaturized medical devices focused on point-of-care.”

The HemoScreen relies on viscoelastic focusing, a physical phenomenon discovered at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, in which as blood flows through a micro-channel, some cells migrate to the center of flow and align perfectly into a single cell layer. This brings them in focus and enables them to be optically detected and analyzed. Identification and classification of the cells is achieved using machine learning and machine vision algorithms that provide “core lab quality results,” the firm said.

“This deal is crucial for PixCell’s global expansion and commercialization of the HemoScreen. We believe Soulbrain will be an excellent strategic partner, helping accelerate our growth while continuing to provide accessible and accurate hematological test results on a global scale,” said Dr. Avishay Bransky, co-founder and CEO of PixCell Medical. “Our goal is to deliver reliable, simple and affordable diagnostic information to those in need – be it patients with chronic illnesses or people living in remote areas with lack of access to healthcare. Partnering with Soulbrain is an important milestone for us in achieving that goal.”

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