Meet Retham Technologies, a Wauwatosa biotech startup making a better test for a blood clotting disease – Milwaukee Business Journal – Milwaukee Business Journal

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Anand Padmanabhan never thought he’d be an entrepreneur.
But while working as a physician and scientist at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), he discovered a new way to diagnose a sometimes life-threatening blood clotting complication called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT).
Padmanabhan initially tried to get another company to license the technology but faced resistance. Rather than let the idea go, he formed Retham Technologies LLC in 2017 along with Daniel Sem, who is temporarily serving as the company’s CEO.
“It has a very high potential for patient impact, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable with myself if I hadn’t given it a shot,” Padmanabhan said. “I realized that no one else is going to move it forward — it’s just me or no one.”
“Retham” means “blood” in Padmanabhan’s native language of Tamil, which is spoken in southern India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, he said. Padmanabhan attended medical school in India before moving to the U.S. to earn a doctorate in biochemistry from Brown University. He then completed his medical residency at Columbia University in New York City and his clinical fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.
Padmanabhan became interested in HIT research after treating patients suffering from the disease while working for MCW. Depending on where their clots form, patients with HIT can experience strokes or require amputations, among other symptoms.
Crucial to the success of Retham Technologies was the team’s discovery of a method for stabilizing blood platelets, which are a key ingredient in their test. The company intends to make blood testing kits that are shelf-stable and distribute to hospitals across the country. Padmanabhan said the kits could hit the market in two to three years.
The product: HITDx, a test to diagnose heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) and related blood clotting disorders, including vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), which has been noted in some patients who have received certain Covid-19 vaccines.
How it makes money: Retham plans to sell test kits to hospital diagnostic laboratories.
Size of the market: Retham estimates the total available market is worth $500 million per year, with 2 million tests per year at $250 per test.
Competition: The current tests for HIT are either inaccurate or require a reference lab send-out for more complex and expensive testing, leading to major risks associated with misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, according to Retham.
Competitive advantage: HITDx is highly accurate yet technically simple, such that it can be performed in a routine hospital laboratory, Retham said. This enables rapid diagnosis while also decreasing test turnaround time to a few hours compared with several days, leading to better patient outcomes.
Technology it could disrupt: The current inaccurate and time-consuming two-step HIT diagnosis process, which is a major challenge for managing HIT and other blood-clotting disorders.
Key team members: President and chief science officer Anand Padmanabhan, CEO and general counsel Daniel Sem, and director of research and development Curtis Jones
Advisers: Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. medical director Gian Visentin, Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin senior investigator emeritus Richard Aster, Stem Pharm Inc. CEO Steven Visuri and Alembic Biotech Consultants principal Stephen Coutts
Investors: BrightStar Wisconsin, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and “family and friends” investors, as well as grants from the National Institutes of Health, and the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Therapeutic Accelerator Program
Capital raised: $692,000, including grants
Capital sought: $3 million to $4 million in the next one to two years, including money the company hopes to acquire through grants.
Company: Retham Technologies LLC
Headquarters: Wauwatosa       
Year founded: 2017
CEO: Daniel Sem
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