Coming back from the brink of death sounds so dramatic, but that’s truly how I feel. In 2012, I was literally dying. I had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and, a few months into my treatment, I learned that my cancer was resistant to the drugs. My only treatment option at that point was maximum potency drugs – drugs that might cure me but might destroy my heart. Not great options. I was lucky – my cancer was cured, and my heart is fine, but I kept wondering why wasn’t there a better way to test these drugs before they entered my body. Why didn’t we know my risks with these drugs? With all of the technology available, why do we still use the patient as the Guinea pig? Thus was born StemoniX®.
Using human induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (hiPSC) technology, StemoniX creates complex cultures of, among other organs, brain or heart tissues from adult human skin cells. These microOrgans® are formatted to better mimic native function to allow for a more accurate representation of the human response to medications, which makes them ideal for use in drug discovery. The human heart cells in our microHeart platform are structured like and beat like native human heart cells. The human neural cells in our microBrain platforms communicate like native human brain cells. The microOrgans that we manufacture retain the function of the donor. As a result, we can make platforms that mimic a variety of disease. Right now, we’re working on several disease models, including one for Rett syndrome – a rare developmental disorder that causes progressive loss of function and behaviors similar to those seen in severe autism.
To ensure the most accurate analysis of responses, our team of bioinformatics scientists created a proprietary analytical data management tool that allows for robust, biologically-tuned, and unbiased data evaluation in a fraction of the time. Because our platforms are so consistent and are delivered ready-to-use, drug-discovery companies can use them and our software to identify both the effective and toxic doses of medications faster, safer, and more effectively. Together, our combination of advanced, complex human-based experimental models and advanced analytics provide a strong foundation that will pivot drug development to humanbased, rather than animal-based, processes; extending from general to precision medicine.
My background is in nanotechnology with a foundation in mechanical engineering – so I understand the importance of quality and structure. Furthermore, I’ve founded two organizations prior to StemoniX, trained in Lean Startup and as an Innovation Architect, and brought new technologies to market within large corporations. These experiences coupled with those of my co-founder have helped to focus our energy and move our company forward. I’m not a biologist, but I’ve been immersed in stem-cell research over the past six years with our world-experts who research, develop, and manufacture our products as well as provide a variety of drug discovery services to different sectors. Together, among other activities, we’ve partnered with the NIH to help end the opioid crisis and entered into a joint venture to do AI-based drug discovery. Mostly, we’ve all had disease hit close to home. It’s why we do what we do. Together with our pharma partners, we’re achieving our mission statement: Make Medicine Work the First Time.