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Revolutionizing medical care in Africa, one test at a time

8:09 AM, Mar 18, 2010   |    comments
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Precision Photonics is known for its tiny optics, which are used in lasers.

"We make the components that make those lasers perform better, work faster, last longer," Chris Myatt, the company's founder and CEO explained.

Myatt says the components are used in lasers built for the defense and manufacturing industries. Some help to knock missiles out of the air, while others help cut out the metal parts used in cars. The optics can are also used by communications companies in their fiber optic networks.

"When you send an e-mail, it goes out through optical wires. We make a device that helps control how those messages get routed," Myatt said.

While Precision Photonics is doing quite well, despite the recession; the company recently launched a brand new venture in a new field-medical diagnostics. The company was able to capitalize on the technology it mastered, to create an inexpensive device which can quickly test blood samples for a myriad of diseases.

"We're currently working with HIV, hepatitis, influenza. Many common ailments could be addressed through this technology," Myatt said.

While the company hopes to sell the MBio devices to doctors' offices in the U.S., Myatt believes the real potential is in Africa and other developing countries.

"In a place like Mozambique or South Africa they have to ship samples to centralized labs where they have to run some of these tests on $300,000 instruments. The concept of having a $300 instrument that could be at the local clinic anywhere in the country is very attractive in these situations," Myatt said.

The device is easy to use. Blood is simply injected into a testing cartridge, which is loaded into the machine. Within seconds, a computer returns the results.

Myatt plans to submit the device for FDA testing soon. If approved by the government, he says the tests could eliminate the time patients have to wait for results. They could know whether they have strep throat or another infection before they walk out the door.

He even dreams of a day when MBio is a household name, bought by parents who don't even want to wait for their doctor's office to open.

"The number of times we've been up at three in the morning and one of my girls has been sick and the concept of being able to take a test right then and there... At three in the morning I'd pay a lot of money for that," Myatt said. 

Precision Photonics was recently selected as one of the 50 Colorado Companies to Watch by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Every Thursday 9NEWS reports about another company, highlighting its success in this difficult economy.
To see those stories, visit http://www.9news.com/life/programming/shows/mornings/ctw/.

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