Exclusive: Dayton-area bioscience company readies product launch, employee base set to grow
By John Bush
Fueled by new investments and successful clinical trials, a Dayton-area bioscience company is ready to bring its product to market and hire dozens of new employees.
Oxford-based Ischemia Care, which has a clinical laboratory in Middletown, is a molecular diagnostic enterprise that has developed a blood test for timely diagnosis and treatment of strokes. Company founder and CEO Jeff June says the test, called ISCDx, will hit the commercial market within the next 60 days.
“Ischemia Care will first and foremost deliver a critical diagnostic test for the market,” June said. “But our real value is in understanding the care continuum of stroke from beginning to end, so that those patients have better outcomes.”
In December, the venture-backed company received $2 million from investors that included Accelerant, a fund through the Dayton Development Coalition that helps local startups earn capital investments.
To date, Ischemia Care has landed nearly $9 million from a variety of investors, as well as $5 million in Federal research funding prior to the BASE clinical trial. And June said this is just the beginning.
“We’ll be raising additional funds to support the growth of the company,” he said. “I can see our next round (of funding) being $5 to $10 million later in 2018.”
The investments, along with a clinical trial affirmed by an stroke industry leader during a recent conference, has helped Ischemia Care move forward with its product launch.
Edward Jauch, professor and chair of emergency medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, presented positive clinical data demonstrating the product’s ability to identify the cause of ischemic stroke at the 2018 International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.
The clinical trial was conducted with more than 1,400 stroke patients at 22 hospitals nationwide, including locally at Kettering Medical Center and Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. It was “the most successful stroke biomarker clinical trial ever conducted, demonstrating significant clinical support,” according to the Ischemia Care website.
“What the (clinical trial) has done is helped us establish a network of hospitals that could potentially be adopters of our technology,” June said. “It’s the clinicians’ experience with our testing and the understanding of the hospital networks that will fuel our growth.”
In addition to diagnostic testing, the company’s offerings include services targeting pharmaceutical and device companies to apply biomarkers, personalized medicine and data analytics to create new sales channels.
ISCDx is offered as an “in-hospital” test, and is priced at $1,500. Results are reported while the patient is hospitalized, and paid through the hospital’s Diagnosis-Related Group — a statistical system of classifying inpatient groups for the purposes of payment.
The sales process is built on a proprietary cost reduction model customized to each hospital, which June said is beneficial because health networks often overspend on stroke patients, when cause is unknown. About $65 billion is spent on stroke patients annually, June said.
“Knowing the cause (of strokes) will lead to improved outcomes and reduced cost through guideline-directed treatments,” he said.
About 800,000 Americans suffer from strokes each year. In about 40 percent of those cases, a cause is never found. That’s dangerous, June said, because those can’t be treated in a way that addresses the cause, and so the likelihood of another stroke is much higher. This technology could help between 2.5 million and 3 million patients that present at emergency rooms with stroke symptoms, he said.
The test will help patients while in the hospital, which is critical because clinicians need to understand cause before the patients leave the hospital, or they may lose the opportunity to treat, June said.
Ischemia Care currently employs five full-time workers and about 15 part-time contractors. But with national recognition and a looming product launch, June said the number of full-time employees could jump to 50 or 60 within the next three to four years.
“We’ll continue to bring people on in more full-time roles as the commercial side expands,” he said.
To get there, June said the company will continue to raise funds, launch future tests and build its infrastructure.