Oasis Diagnostics offers innovation in medical analysis

October 15, 2014

Vancouver Business Journal – October 03, 2014

Paul Slowey came a long way to start a Vancouver company that sells diagnostic medical equipment all around the world.

His Oasis Diagnostics Corporation sells saliva collecting and testing tools that help medical personnel diagnose a wide range of illnesses. He thinks his products could even be used to provide faster diagnosis of people infected with the Ebola virus. The tools also are used by veterinarians.

Slowey is a 59-year-old Englishman and an organic chemist who emigrated to Canada, then moved from Vancouver B.C. to Vancouver, Washington. He says using saliva as a diagnostic tool is less invasive than drawing blood, is less expensive, and eliminates the biohazard of having to dispose of blood samples.

His products are now sold throughout the United States and around the world. Seattle Children’s Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, UCLA and LabCorp America, operator of testing labs across the country, are a few of his American customers. Others are in Brazil, Mexico, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Singapore, Malaysia and India. In Brazil, his tools are used for routine cervical cancer screening.

Most of the company’s products are simple saliva collection devices, small paddles that draw up and store saliva from a patient’s mouth. The test results can be used for disease diagnosis, detection of drug use, and even detection of banned substances in athletes.

Parts are manufactured in Asia are then assembled in Oasis’s laboratory in Troutdale, Oregon, by a dozen employees.

“We’re moving the lab to Vancouver and I’m working on a lease to do that,” he said.

Slowey said he has a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease research, and a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. He also is talking with Alzheimer’s disease organizations to see if they’d be interested in funding research.

“Our tools are less painful for patients and safer for those doing the sample collecting because they don’t involve blood. They can be configured to diagnose many diseases as well, and they yield quicker results because often they can give results in the field without having to go back to a laboratory,” he said.

Spotlight-2Since his company is privately held, Slowey doesn’t make financials public, but said annual sales are several million dollars and have been doubling year-over-year for several years.

A lean man who stills plays soccer to keep fit, Slowey said “I woke up one day and decided to move to Canada.” After a stop in Toronto, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, then here when the company he worked for moved down the West Coast to Washington.

“Then the company I worked for moved back East and I said ‘bye-bye.’”

He started Oasis in 2002 and says it’s really a labor of love. He said the basic goal was to remove the pain from diagnostic testing that requires drawing blood with a needle, especially for the elderly and children.

One of his projects is developing saliva testing for Ebola that can be taken “into the bush” that is less invasive, safer for medical personal and yields quick results.

“I started this company to develop diagnostic tools that help people. If I ever sell Oasis, it would be to someone with the same feelings.”