Progentec Diagnostics Raises $1.25M to Predict Lupus Flare-ups

Lead investor i2E, along with Chicago-based OCA Ventures and Mayo Clinic Ventures, has funded the first round of investment to assist Progentec in creating the first-ever commercial test to predict the onset of lupus flares. Technology created by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) is at the core of the platform being developed by Progentec.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that there are as many as 1.5 million lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) patients in the U.S. alone. Seen mostly in women between the ages of 15-44, Lupus causes the immune system to recognize and attack the body’s own tissues.  Lupus sufferers have periods of flares and remission with organs typically affected including the skin, kidneys, lungs and reproductive organs, as well as the cardiovascular system.

Progentec Diagnostics, led by Sanjiv Sharma and Mohan Purushothaman, is working closely with OMRF’s Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., a world leader in lupus research and an inventor of Progentec’s technology, to further advance and refine the platform and its associated algorithms to fulfill the unmet need of advanced lupus diagnostics. The company’s technologies include highly accurate tests for early diagnosis, a score to track underlying disease activity, and a predictive score for lupus flares. With the current funding round, Progentec plans to conduct a retrospective study at OMRF and prospective studies at OMRF and Mayo Clinic to further refine these algorithms.

“The ability to predict an impending flare represents significant value to lupus patients and their physicians. This test is currently not available and is a focus area for us,” said Sanjiv Sharma, Chairman of Progentec.

“Looking beyond flare prediction, a test to track underlying disease activity will fundamentally change how lupus patients are identified for specific interventions and allows for better management decisions at all levels of the healthcare system,” said Mohan Purushothaman, CEO of Progentec.

OMRF has established a significant focus on lupus. “OMRF has been at the forefront of leading scientific research, especially in the field of lupus,” said Manu Nair, Vice President of Technology Ventures at OMRF. “Progentec is going on a trajectory that we have traversed in the past, and we believe that our science, combined with the entrepreneurial and management skills brought in by Progentec, will successfully bring these tests to the market.”

“We are pleased to work with OCA Ventures and Mayo Clinic on this promising, Oklahoma-born project,” said Scott Meacham, President and CEO of i2E Inc., “It is important to work together to identify and develop technologies like these in their early stages when they most need help.”

Mayo Clinic Ventures found Progentec’s technology aligned with their clinical interest in lupus, especially in managing patients with a diagnostic to improve patient care while potentially reducing clinical costs. “We are excited to work with Progentec and OMRF to advance this technology and hopefully bring about a change in how lupus patients are diagnosed, managed and treated,” said Andrew Danielsen, Vice Chair, Mayo Clinic Ventures.

Mayo Clinic will use any revenue it receives to support its not-for-profit mission in patient care, education and research.

Currently, no test exists that can predict when a lupus flare will occur.  Therefore, Progentec’s test could have a significant impact for patients at risk of organ damage or death caused by lupus flares that cannot otherwise be accurately predicted.

 

Regroup Therapy Uses Technology to Improve Access to Mental Health

Textbook economics teaches that, in a free market, supply rises to meet demand until price reaches an equilibrium. When it comes to mental health services, though, the supply of psychiatrists is declining despite widespread need, resulting in patients not getting treatment in a timely manner.

“Every single state suffers from a shortage,” says David Cohn, CEO of Regroup Therapy, a telepsychiatry company he founded in 2011, “and 55 percent of U.S. counties have no mental health clinicians.”

Regroup’s mission is to fill that void by supplying credentialed and fully vetted clinicians—psychiatrists, social workers and advanced practice nurses—who can “see” patients via a secure video platform that’s HIPAA-compliant. “Literally, the only difference is our clinicians are in two dimensions,” Cohn says.

The for-profit company’s customers are not the individuals themselves, but hospitals, primary care clinics, correctional institutions and community-based outpatient centers through which people access health care. In the Chicago market, clients include Sinai Health System, Oak Street Health and Metropolitan Family Services. They’re billed monthly for services rendered and reimbursed by patients’ insurers or government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Cohn, 37, who grew up on the North Shore, says he always had an interest in both technology and mental health, but didn’t see himself becoming a clinician. After majoring in economics at Colorado College, spending two years in Guatemala with the Peace Corps and managing sales and services in Latin America and Europe for CEB, formerly known as Corporate Executive Board, he earned his MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, where he hatched the idea for Regroup Therapy as a class project.

He started Regroup with $60,000 from friends, family and his own savings. The company has raised $8.4 million from investors including OSF Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, OCA Ventures and Frist Cressey Ventures.

Revenue jumped from less than $500,000 last year to a projected $10 million-plus in annual recurring revenue by year-end. Regroup now employs 23 full-time staffers in its headquarters in Ravenswood, IL and serves nearly 50 health entities with a network of more than 3,000 clinicians. Roughly half of treatment hours are provided by clinicians who work full time for Regroup; the remainder are part-time contractors. Clinicians are paid $45 to $300 per hour. Full-timers also receive benefits such as health care coverage, medical malpractice insurance and a 401(k) retirement plan.

At its 2017 awards program Nov. 9 in Chicago, the Illinois Telehealth Initiative recognized Regroup with an award for Advancing Telehealth by Innovation. Nancy Kaszak, the initiative’s director, cites Regroup’s easy-to-use video platform and system integration as strengths in the telehealth field. “Hospitals are big on their records and their systems,” she says, “and if you can’t integrate into that system, it becomes an issue.”

 

Forbes Announces List of 30 Under 30: Founders of Moving Analytics Profiled

Forbes 30 under 30:  Moving Analytics co-founders, Adelanwa Adesanya & Shuo Qiao

Heart patients need help. Getting them moving can prevent costly readmissions and dire health consequences. Ade Adesanya and Shuo Qiao’s Moving Analytics partnered with Stanford to deliver cardiac rehab via a smartphone. They’ve raised $2 million from investors that include Launchpad Digital, HealthX Ventures, Blueprint Health, the National Science Foundation, Stanford University, United Talent Agency, and OCA Ventures.