This is a very interesting and exciting time in the healthcare industry. In addition to a new wave of advanced technologies and innovations promising to improve outcomes and patient experience, there are significant shifts occurring in how healthcare professionals treat patients, provide care and even interact with patients and each other.
There are multiple drivers for this evolution in the industry. The Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare as its widely known – has driven healthcare organizations to rapidly embrace technology by incentivizing electronic health record (EHR) adoption and penalizing readmission. The rise of new payment models are also encouraging healthcare professionals to interact more, operate more efficiently and increase their engagement with care teams and patients. Finally, industry-wide calls to focus on preventative health, population health and wellness have shifted the focus from treating illness to keeping patients healthy. And these are just a few of the trends we’re seeing across the healthcare space.
Together, these trends have created significant opportunity for companies in the biomedical, healthcare technology and life sciences industries. One such company from the National Capital region is Ceres Nanosciences Inc. (Ceres). Ceres is a life sciences company headquartered in Manassas, VA, which has created proprietary sample preparation products and diagnostic tests that can help physicians detect certain diseases and conditions earlier, helping to expedite care and improve outcomes.
The CEO of Ceres, Ross Dunlap, will be discussing the company’s background, technologies and growth at the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Dunlap to learn more about how Ceres was founded, what its Nanotrap technology is capable of, and why Northern Virginia and the rest of the National Capital region is quickly becoming a hotbed for healthcare and life sciences companies.
Here is what Ross had to say:
CGCS: Can you give our readers a bit of background about Ceres Nanosciences? When was the company founded? How did it get its start?
Mr. Dunlap: Ceres Nanosciences Inc. is a privately held life sciences company engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative sample preparation products and diagnostic tests, based on its proprietary Nanotrap® technology. Ceres was founded in 2009 as a spin out company of George Mason University in Northern Virginia.
CGCS: I’ve seen some very exciting announcements about Ceres’ Nanotrap Technology. What is Nanotrap Technology? What can it do?
Mr. Dunlap: The Nanotrap is a particle technology that captures, enriches and preserves biomarkers. Early detection of biomarkers, in particular those of low abundance, is key to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer, cardiac, and infectious diseases, resulting in improved patient benefit and reduced health care costs.
Ceres has a broad product pipeline of advanced sample collection technologies and diagnostics, funded through federal agency grants and industry collaboration funding. Ceres’ lead product in development is a direct antigen test for the diagnosis of Lyme disease, which is available commercially.
CGCS: What existing use cases has Ceres identified for its Nanotrap Technology? How do you see this technology evolving into new and exciting use cases in the future?
Mr. Dunlap: Ceres Nanotrap technology can be applied anywhere that getting the best sample quality and sensitivity of output is important, including diagnostic testing, R&D/drug development, and general sample preservation needs. It has great utility for enabling point of care or in-home testing applications and we see it playing a big role in the growing field of point of care diagnostics across a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions.
CGCS: We’ve seen a recent upswing in start-ups, investment and growth activity in the life sciences and healthcare technology space. What is driving this current interest and growth? What trends are converging to make these industries hot growth industries in the market today?
Mr. Dunlap: In the life sciences space, the trend is to develop more proactive solutions for diagnosing and treating illness in the earliest stages. Also, the trend is to enable more widespread and universal health and wellness screening. Along with the capabilities to screen/test is a need to analyze all the data and provide actionable information from it. There is great value in the technologies that can enable any part of this value chain.
CGCS: Ceres Nanosciences is based out of Manassas, VA, and is one of many healthcare and life sciences companies that have taken root in the region. Why is the National Capital region so attractive for companies in these markets?
Mr. Dunlap: There is a large pool of talent to draw from across the many universities in the region. There are 3 major airports nearby. There are the government agencies that drive health care policy and funding in the back yard (NIH, FDA) and there is a growing community of entrepreneurs in the healthcare field with an interest in building a strong presence to rival that of NC, MA and CA.
CGCS: You’re going to be attending the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Growth Conference and participating in the event’s annual Technology Showcase. What made you choose to participate at this year’s conference? What can attendees expect from your presentation at the event?
Mr. Dunlap: I’m excited to participate to share more about our story at Ceres – what we’re doing with an amazing technology and the potential and value it has in the market. Attendees can expect to learn about how our technology is poised to become a ubiquitous tool in cutting edge diagnostics and about some of the exciting products we’ve already enabled with our technology.