Med-Tech Startup Backed by U.S. Dept of Defense
Pace Diagnostics is a medical technology company focused on the early detection of tuberculosis and lung cancer.
10 million people a year are infected with tuberculosis (TB), a serious infectious bacterial disease that impacts the lungs. Another 2 million people a year are diagnosed with lung cancer.
The key to eradicating these diseases is to identify them at their earliest stage, when they are most treatable. That’s been a major challenge with respect to TB and lung cancer. But Pace Diagnostics aims to change that.
This company has created a series of point-of-care diagnostic tests. These tests are affordable, minimally-invasive, and highly accurate. They can detect signs of TB or lung cancer in as little as 30 minutes.
Since launching in 2018, Pace Diagnostics has received more than $6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation. It’s also raised $2.5 million in seed capital to fund initial research. And it’s partnered with several prominent health-focused institutions around the world, including UC San Diego Health, University of Cape Town, and the Federal University of Espirito Santo in Brazil.
Pace Diagnostics has pending patents for its initial tests and secured British Biocell International, the world’s largest independent producer of immune diagnostic tests, as its manufacturer. In 2021, the company will validate its technology and conduct the necessary trials, with plans to bring its tests to market in 2022.
As mentioned, both TB and lung cancer are serious, widespread health issues. At least 4 million people globally will die this year of these diseases.
A number of these deaths are due to a lack of access to affordable, accurate tests. Current clinical diagnostics for TB and lung cancer are too expensive, too invasive, and too lab-dependent for large-scale population testing.
The World Health Organization has taken steps to alleviate this problem. For example, it set minimum requirements for cost, speed, accuracy, and functionality with respect to creating an effective diagnostic test. This is a big reason why the U.S. market for lung cancer diagnosis is expected to reach $20 billion next year, and the TB market is expected to surpass $3 billion.
Pace Diagnostics has the potential to disrupt these markets with its upcoming tests. That’s because its test is the only one to meet all of The WHO’s requirements.
Simply put, its tests are easy to use, affordable, and suitable for mass screening. Furthermore, there is minimal expertise required to interpret the results, and its TB test is capable of detecting the disease in HIV-positive individuals (most current methodologies fail in this respect).
Pace Diagnostics’ end customers include hospitals, doctors, relief agencies, medical groups, and health organizations. To reach these customers, the company will sell its tests through distributors. These include Una Health (in the UK), The Scientific Group (in Africa), and Axon Labs (in the European Union). Pace expects to earn between $3 and $25 per test when sold to distributors.
With funds raised, Pace Diagnostics will continue clinical testing and position to earn a CE Mark in Q1 2022. This mark is on commercial products throughout Europe, and affirms that the product meets with the continent’s health, safety, and environmental protection standards.
Hiep started Pace Diagnostics after spending 15 years as President and CEO of TransMembrane Biosciences, a biotech company developing treatments for tuberculosis.
He earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from California Institute of Technology and a degree in Biochemistry from MIT.
Prior to his time with Pace Diagnostics, Sunjay was Vice President of TransMembrane Biosciences, the biotech company developing diagnostic tests and treatments for tuberculosis.
In addition, he has spent the past 17 years as an assistant professor at Los Angeles Mission College, as well as a faculty member at Santa Monica College. Earlier, he taught biology at California State University, Los Angeles.
Sunjay earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Plant Genetics from the University of California, Riverside.
Lorne has a history of growing startups, and has achieved two successful “exits.”
Most recently, he was Chief Financial Officer with ACTV8me, an advertising technology platform. Before that, he was Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Business Development with SpiritClips, an entertainment business.
Earlier in his career, he co-founded E-Port Logistics Software, a software technology company. He started that company after serving as Managing Director with Matrix Media, a marketing and multimedia business.
Lorne earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
Prior to starting Pace Diagnostics, Marianne spent nearly a decade with Honeywell, makers of a line of safety and performance materials. She was a quality engineer and later a global senior manager.
Before that, she worked in operations for AMETEK, a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments. She worked there after spending nine years as a senior processing engineer with Tyco International, a security and investigations business.
Marianne earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Georgia Tech and a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from California Institute of Technology.