Start-Up Previews (01/2010)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "Biotechs Target the GI Tract," features profiles of Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Genetic Analysis, Meritage Pharma and Ventrus Biosciences. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics, Concert Pharmaceuticals, ImThera Medical, On-Q-ity and Telormedix.
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Formed by the 2009 merger of CELLective DX and DNA Repair Co., On-Q-ity Inc. is developing personalized molecular diagnostics for cancer. The start-up thinks that combining DNA repair biomarkers with its ability to capture and analyze circulating tumor cells provides a complete view of an individual patient's pending treatment options and allows for more patient-friendly monitoring of the treatment's progress. On-Q-ity is currently conducting large-scale trials analyzing the response of DNA repair mechanisms to breast cancer therapies, focusing particularly on the anthracycline class of drugs. Initial studies are based on tissue samples, but the company will begin trials with circulating tumor cells in various cancers later this year.
Although more than 20 million people in the US are affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the standard of care for the disorder--a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine applied at bedtime with a nasal or facial mask to keep airways propped open--carries a noncompliance rate of almost 50%. ImThera Medical Inc. is developing a new implantable neurostimulation device that stimulates certain tongue muscles during sleep to open the upper airway and potentially help patients who are unable or unwilling to use CPAP or pursue surgical alternatives.
A number of diseases are associated with or influenced by imbalances in gut bacteria, including autism and GI disorders such as ulcers, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Many other conditions not obviously associated with the gastrointestinal tract also seem to be influenced by imbalance in the gut, such as allergies, eczema, depression and obesity. Genetic Analysis is developing the G-MAP, a microbiota array technology that analyzes and profiles the gut microflora and associates the resulting profile with various diseases.