JumpStart Inc., the Northeast Ohio venture development organization that accelerates the growth of innovative early-stage businesses and ideas, has announced an investment commitment of $350,000 in CerviLenz™, Inc. The Cleveland-based company is commercializing a patented, Federal Drug Administration cleared medical device that allows obstetricians to easily measure cervical length in pregnant women, which has been established by the National Institutes of Health as an effective predictor of preterm birth risk.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, patients at high risk for preterm births have been difficult to identify and have accounted for more than $2 billion in annual healthcare costs.
“Until recently, the causes of preterm birth have been poorly understood with few existing treatment options available,” said Kevin Mendelsohn, the JumpStart Entrepreneur-in-Residence who will be working with the company. “But the recent emergence of progesterone as a therapy to substantially reduce the risk of preterm birth has presented a significant opportunity for CerviLenz. Its medical device provides obstetricians and gynecologists a cost effective alternative to screen women for preterm birth risk and determine whether they are suitable candidates for the therapy or to consult with a high-risk pregnancy specialist,” Mendelsohn concluded.
CerviLenz is led by Board Chairman Dr. Michael Ross, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist and Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and Chief Executive Officer Dean Koch, an industry veteran who has spent the past 10 years with Adeza Biomedical, the first firm in the preterm birth arena. Together, Dr. Ross and Mr. Koch bring extensive clinical experience and highly relevant sales and marketing experience in the preterm birth market.
“Preterm birth has a profound effect on babies and their families alike. CerviLenz provides an opportunity for improved management of this significant, unmet medical need, and I am personally committed to help reduce its incidence in the United States and abroad,” said Koch.
According to Koch, more than one in eight pregnant women will deliver their baby preterm, which is defined as delivery before 37 completed weeks of gestation, and most often as a surprise to both the women and their physicians. The rate of preterm birth in the United States has increased over 30 percent since 1980; however, new research with progesterone is predicted to reverse this trend.
“In published work from the National Institutes of Health and others, progesterone therapy has been shown to reduce preterm birth risk, particularly in women with a short cervix,” Koch continued. “Translating such groundbreaking work from the research setting to the real world will present many challenges. The CerviLenz device will help physicians, midwives and nurses to easily and cost effectively identify pregnant women at high risk of preterm birth and get them the care they need to reduce the risk of delivering their baby early.”
The company is utilizing JumpStart’s investment to help complete clinical studies, conduct additional market research, and engage in pre-launch marketing efforts.
This is JumpStart’s 40th investment in its 29th company. Other healthcare companies in JumpStart’s portfolio include AcelleRx Therapeutics, AnalizaDx, CardioInsight Technologies, Great Lakes Pharmaceuticals, Synapse Biomedical and Telerad Express.
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About CerviLenz, Inc.
CerviLenz™, Inc., headquartered near Cleveland, Ohio, is a manufacturer and marketer of a patented, FDA cleared device to predict preterm birth risk in pregnant women by accurately measuring cervical length. Preterm birth (delivery prior to 37 completed weeks of gestation) affects almost 13 percent of pregnancies annually in the United States, representing over 500,000 babies. It is a serious health problem, with increased risk for a variety of newborn complications and lifelong disabilities. Preterm birth is also the leading cause of infant death. Cervical length was established by the National Institutes of Health as a powerful predictor of preterm birth risk in a study utilizing a specialized ultrasound probe and technique. The CerviLenz device is a simple, low cost alternative that can be used by a healthcare professional to identify women who may benefit from progesterone therapy or further consultation by a specialist.
About JumpStart Inc.
JumpStart (www.jumpstartinc.org) accelerates the growth of innovative early-stage businesses and ideas into venture-ready companies by delivering vital, focused resources to entrepreneurs and the community of Northeast Ohio. JumpStart identifies and invests in early-stage companies that have strong potential in the marketplace, solid prospects for high growth, and are likely to qualify for later-stage funding. Beyond investing, the JumpStart team provides a continuum of business development services to its client companies to help ensure their success.