Solu, is a Finnish start-up company that combats antibiotic resistance by building the world’s most extensive, i.e., fastest, smartest, and easiest-to-use, bacterial DNA library. The company was started in January 2023.
Sam started medical school one and a half years ago, after finishing a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Aalto University and having worked at Meru Health in clinical research and data analysis. At that time, he had also been involved in a few entrepreneurial initiatives at Aalto University. In 2017, he started the Kiuas Accelerator, a company that helps early-stage startups grow from an idea to paying customers, and it is still operating well. In April 2022, Sam attended an antibiotic resistance event by Tiedekulma (Science Corner) at the University of Helsinki, and he got enthusiastic about this topic. He realized that antibiotic resistance would have a big impact on the economy and society in general and that he would be able to contribute to solving this problem by utilizing his connections and experience in entrepreneurship. Thus, he started to explore the topic of antibiotic resistance, and he discovered that DNA sequencing, a new emerging field in AMR, could be used to predict antibiotic resistance. He also discovered that current diagnostic techniques were outdated and that sequencing data was not being used to its full potential. He then assembled a team, consisting of Timo Moilanen and Kerkko Visuri, and put his medical school on hold.
The team began working on a product to address the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections, the rapid growth of bacterial genome sequencing, the low accuracy rate of phenotypic prediction (83%) and the amount of time it takes to analyze and interpret a sample (more than one hour). This led to the creation of the Solu software platform, which can transform raw data from sequencing devices into infectious disease insights, outbreak monitoring and epidemic prevention, data for RNA and antibiotic drug development, and real-time superbug information. The core features include fast results (3 minutes), genome assembly, species identification, and antimicrobial resistance prediction, using artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Future features could also include the determination of virulence factors and plasmids. The product is accessible through a user-friendly dashboard with a drag-and-drop feature for sequencing files, after which the results can be viewed. The results can be exported to different file formats for further analysis.
Sam Sihvonen – co-founder and CEO of Solu
Written by: Christine de Zwart