By Anna Lardinois
Every day, five Americans die from an adverse reaction to a drug, heparin that is commonly used to prevent and treat blood clots.
Retham Technologies plans to significantly lower that number.
Chemist Curtis Jones has a passion for research. Shortly after he graduated from UW-Milwaukee, he was hired as a Senior Research Technologist at Versiti BloodCenter of Wisconsin. While there, he was part of a team that developed a breakthrough in rapid HIT blood testing. The discovery changed the course of his career.
HIT is heparin-Induced thrombocytopenia. This condition can occur when a person is given heparin, a blood thinning drug used to prevent and treat blood clots. About one-third of hospitalized patients in the U.S., approximately twelve million people, are given heparin each year. Some of those people will develop HIT. Patients with HIT develop a decrease in their platelet count (referred to as “thrombocytopenia) and about half of them develop blood clots that can lead to a strokes, loss of a limbs or even death if not recognized and treated immediately. Jones estimates that annually, 20,000-40,000 people in the United States develop HIT.
Today, if a doctor thinks a patient may have HIT, the patient’s blood must be sent to one of the five laboratories in the nation that is equipped to run the complicated “gold standard” test to diagnose HIT. For most doctors, this involves several days of waiting between when HIT is suspected until test results are received. This impacts patient care greatly because HIT blood clots are treated differently than other blood clots.
Retham’s testing kit will change the wait time from days into hours by allowing the tests to be performed by the hospital’s in-house labs. A quick HIT diagnosis will lead to improved patient treatment and ultimately save lives.
The Wauwatosa-based startup is led by President and Chief Science Officer, Dr. Anand Padmanabhan. Both a physician and scientist, Dr. Padmanabhan led the team that made the HIT testing breakthrough. Joining Padmanabhan on company’s leadership team is local Health Tech startup standout, CEO Dr. Dan Sem, and Jones, who is the Director of Research and Development.
The company got its first big break when it received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I funding in 2019. Since then, the investor list has grown to include BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, and the WEDC.
According to Jones, the team is hoping to receive SBIR Phase II funding the first half of 2022. The funding will allow them to continue to navigate the costly regulatory process required to get their testing kits into hospitals. It will take years to move through the needed trials and regulations, but Jones anticipates Retham’s kits could appear in hospitals as soon as 2024.
To follow Retham Technologies’ road to the medical marketplace, connect with them here.