May 18, 2023

Detecting at-risk heart attack patients, a step closer with $2m investment

Upstream Medical Technologies, a leading deep-tech company focused on developing innovative solutions for heart disease, announced today that it has closed a significant capital round to further advance its frontline diagnostic tests for cardiac diseases.

The $2m investment, led by Pacific Channel, will enable Upstream to accelerate the testing of a novel biomarker, [provisionally named Marker C] which will quickly and accurately detect at-risk patients who present to emergency departments with symptoms of heart disease. Other investors include Booster Innovation Fund, K1W1, and Angel Investors Marlborough.

Upstream CEO, Kieran Jina said, “This investment will enable us to significantly advance the R&D for the ground-breaking diagnostic marker that has the potential to transform the management of heart disease, the biggest killer of women and men globally.

“About a half of patients who present to the ED with chest pains can be rapidly triaged through existing biomarkers, but the challenge is to rapidly diagnose the remaining patients who fit into what we call the ‘grey (or observe) zone’ – people who may be at high risk of unstable angina and susceptible to a heart attack, said Mr Jina.

Upstream CMO Professor Martin Than adds “We need a quick and accurate blood test to determine whether a person may re-present with a heart attack. Currently, these patients are kept in hospital, under observation, often requiring invasive, time-intensive, and costly tests.  

“The unmet clinical need is significant. Developing a biomarker to detect these at-risk patients in emergency departments, has the potential to make sure patients are treated faster, prioritise those who need care, save hospital resources, and importantly, save countless lives, said Professor Than.

“We have now successfully tested the effectiveness of Marker C on over 2,200 patients,” said Mr Jina. To date, we’ve been able to show that if Marker C was used, ED clinicians could have safely and rapidly triage up to 35% more chest pain patients.”

Brent Ogilvie, managing partner Pacific Channel said “Upstream has demonstrated rapid progress in its mission to develop breakthrough technologies for heart disease and transform the way this deadly disease is managed.

“We’re delighted to be investing in Upstream alongside Booster Innovation Fund and other venture capital companies to provide the capital, resources, and global networks to the team to support their efforts in developing meaningful and innovative solutions that aim to solve this significant global challenge.

Melissa Yiannoutsos, Booster Innovation Fund (BIF) Manager, says backing Upstream not only supports the company in achieving its important mission to advance cardiac care and save lives, the partnership also represents the fourth investment born out of the collaboration between Otago Innovation Ltd and Booster to invest in opportunities originating out of University of Otago.

“Upstream represents several of the qualities we look for in a business. They have great evidence of product-market fit, underpinned by their scientific leadership and, most importantly, a strong passionate team with a clear plan to build value,” she says.

Mr Jina adds “As a part of the capital raise, Prof. Chris Pemberton has been appointed Vice President of Discovery which will allow him to focus on developing our asset pipeline and as Vice President of Development, Dr Jan Powell will focus on taking biomarkers, once validated, through commercial development steps suitable for FDA approval. We are also pleased to welcome Honorary Research Professor Martin Than as our Chief Medical Officer.

"We are committed to advancing this important work and bringing this technology to patients in need," said Mr Jina.


For further information please contact Bronwynne Howse 0274 583 198

About Upstream

Upstream was formed out of the world-renowned Christchurch Heart Institute, from the scientists that determined the diagnostic value of BNP and identified NTproBNP; these are now the gold-standard biomarkers for heart failure, generating over $1b p.a. in revenues.

Honorary Professor Martin Than – Chief Medical Officer

Martin is the Director of Emergency Medicine Research, Christchurch Hospital. In addition to being a practising emergency medicine physician, he has a strong focus on optimising the triage of chest pain patients in the Emergency Department.  He has been internationally recognised, most recently the 2020 International UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence award, as well as participating on many committees and advisory boards including the IFCC Committee on the Clinical Application of Cardiac Biomarkers that created the definition of high sensitivity troponin to diagnose heart attack.