OKLAHOMA CITY—Progentec Diagnostics Inc. announced in late 2018 the completion of a second round of funding co-led by i2E and Chicago-based OCA Ventures. NMC Lifesciences, a global healthcare provider, also participated in the round. The funding will help bring Progentec’s tool for identifying lupus flare ups and a biomarker-based disease-activity index closer to commercialization. Technology created by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is at the core of the platform being developed by Progentec.
“NMC Lifesciences is excited to partner with Progentec,” said Prasanth Manghat, CEO and executive director of NMC Health Plc. “As a leading global healthcare provider that has put key components in place to build a strong, interdependent, integrated, multi-vertical and multi-brand private healthcare network of a team of over 2,000 doctors serving 8.5 million patients in over 17 countries, NMC is looking forward to a strong symbiotic partnership with Progentec delivering value all across the healthcare delivery ecosystem.”
Progentec also simultaneously announced the acquisition of LupusCorner, a leading patient-empowerment platform for people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis. By integrating LupusCorner’s technology platform and data insights, Progentec says it is positioned to develop a first-in-class lupus-management platform. The founders of LupusCorner, Arif Sorathia and Brett Adelman, have joined Progentec and will help lead technology, outreach and growth initiatives.
“Progentec began conversations with LupusCorner in the winter of 2017. These conversations revealed the shared mission of the two companies: to empower patients and clinicians managing lupus with cutting-edge biologic and digital technologies,” notes Adelman, now director of patient engagement for Progentec Diagnostics. “As the companies began to identify potential projects, the scope of the discussions grew and an acquisition became the clear solution to propel both companies forward.”
Progentec’s technologies include highly accurate biomarker based tests to diagnose disease before symptoms begin to show, as well as tests to monitor and predict disease activity levels in lupus.
“We've made tremendous progress in developing a tool for the identification of lupus flare-ups before they occur,” said Mohan Purushothaman, CEO of Progentec in announcing the new funding round on Nov. 1. “Today’s funding round is the next step on our journey to making this and other advanced tools commercially available to patients with lupus, a disease that afflicts more than one million Americans, many of whom are women. The Progentec tests will become powerful tools to help patients and healthcare providers stay ahead of lupus.”
LupusCorner was founded in 2016 with the mission of transforming the lupus patient experience by creating easy-to-use and powerful technologies. Today, nearly 45,000 people with lupus interact with the LupusCorner platform each month.
“LupusCorner is a powerful platform that connects people battling lupus in an online patient community to share information and better manage the disease. Our goal is to empower our users to be active participants in their healthcare, and we are excited to be part of Progentec. This is a giant step towards uniting patient-generated data with clinical measures to improve patient outcomes,” Adelman mentions. “LupusCorner develops disease-management tools and health content tailored to the needs of people living with lupus. The LupusCorner app, which is currently available on iOS and will be expanded to Android in early 2019, provides a lupus management toolkit that includes symptom tracking, medication management, and community forums. These tools are complemented by LupusCorner.com, a website dedicated to improving lupus health literacy for patients and caregivers at every step of the care journey.”
“The addition of LupusCorner and its users furthers our vision of creating a comprehensive disease-management platform and ensures that the patient voice will be a valued part of our process,” added Purushothaman. “We look forward to advancing the platform and fulfilling the unmet need for lupus diagnostics and management tools.”
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that there are as many as 1.5 million SLE patients in the United States alone. Seen mostly in women between the ages of 15 and 44, lupus causes the immune system to recognize and attack the body's own tissues. Lupus sufferers have periods of flares and remission, with typically affected organs including the skin, kidneys, lungs and reproductive organs, as well as the cardiovascular system.
“With the acquisition finalized in Q3 2018, Progentec is now focused on the development and commercialization of proprietary biomarker tests for diagnosing lupus, predicting flares, and monitoring disease progression. Progentec will begin enrolling patients into a clinical trial in January 2019 and expects to complete the study by year end. Progentec has also added machine learning expert Anthony Barnes to the team that includes Dr. Judith James of the Oklahoma Medical Research Facility to refine the accuracy of the biomarker tests. Additionally, by the end of 2019, Progentec’s first biomarker test will be available to doctors in the United States,” says Adelman.
“Progentec and LupusCorner are excited to not just provide cutting-edge tests for the diagnosis and management of lupus, but to work with Lupus Warriors to improve the long-term management of lupus.”