The company’s biomarker tools can be used to monitor patients with MS to determine whether the disease activity is going in the right or wrong direction. That analysis can provide important information to doctors in making treatment decisions, effectively increasing the quality while decreasing the cost of patient care, said MSDx President and Co-Founder Marie Wesselhoft.
The company is focused on commercializing blood-test products for both Research Use Only and In Vitro Diagnostic.
In January, MSDx announced a clinical study in multiple sclerosis with Dr. Jeanette K. Wendt of Northwest NeuroSpecialists. The research will examine how MSDx’s blood test can monitor MS patients and detect whether treatments are progressing in the right direction.
“We hope we can recruit these 80 subjects over the next six months,” Wesselhoft said. “By the end of the year we should have our data from this study and it will either be part of an FDA submission or help us determine our next clinical study.”
Unlike the company’s initial study at Barrow Neurological Institute of St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center in Phoenix, this study will benefit Tucson patients and doctors.
Last year, MSDx received a $226,000 Arizona Commerce Authority grant that allowed the company to release its first panel of blood-testing products. That first kit was shipped to Harvard Medical School for use in MS research at the end of January.
The chronic autoimmune disease affects about 2.5 million people worldwide and today there are six FDA-approved MS drugs, representing a roughly $10 billion market. MSDx will remain active in that area because of the potential for widespread patient care, but the company has expanded its research to develop products that detect and monitor blood-based biomarkers, or proteins, in other neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and in patients with traumatic brain injuries.
“Unfortunately Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s don’t have good therapies. But biomarkers can be used to help discover drugs,” Wesselhoft said.
The MSDx founders came together as part of the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program in the University of Arizona Eller College of Management. The founders went through the curriculum together with MSDx as the project and at the end they launched the company through the business incubator at the UA Tech Park.