We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

Sponsored By

Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Geneticure personalizes medical treatment

We are part of The Trust Project.

Two Rochester brothers believe they have a better way to treat 80 million Americans with a common, but potentially deadly, condition.

Scott and Dr. Eric Snyder grew up in Rochester and graduated from John Marshall High School. In 2013, they founded a start-up firm called Geneticure, which is built around the idea that the correct genetic test can eliminate the need for traditional trial-and-error medication adjustments to find the best treatment for an individual.

The idea is to create a general platform to test for a variety of conditions, but their first target is one of the largest ones — high blood pressure or hypertension.

"It can take weeks and weeks, up to 65, for physicians to find the right mix of medications for a patient with hypertension," said Scott Snyder.

Geneticure's solution is a patented panel of genetic markers to identify how the patient's system will respond to the drugs used to treat hypertension. The goal is to narrow down the process to find the best treatment within days or weeks instead of the months it can take now.

ADVERTISEMENT

Early on, the brothers unexpectedly found a test patient very close to home — their mother, Gayle Snyder. She was diagnosed with "emergent" hypertension. She began traditional treatment in Rochester, but the boys took cheek swabs and ran her through their 14-gene test.

In her case, they were able to identify the best treatment, and the condition was under control within a few days.

Other than their star patient, Geneticure did not start in Rochester.

Eric Snyder was doing genetic research at the University of Arizona, when he and others came up with the basics of this type of test. He showed it to his brother, Scott Snyder, who had experience with financing young companies. They decided this was something worth building into a company with Scott's backing.

An early "proof of concept" study went well, which impressed Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services. A clinical study now is underway there involving 800 patients.

Though it started elsewhere, the Snyders wanted to bring their young business to Rochester. They moved Geneticure into the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center in downtown Rochester in late 2016.

"Geneticure is developing tools to improve patient care, while creating jobs in Rochester. That is the type of companies we want to attract," said Accelerator Director Xavier Frigola in an announcement of the move. "Scott and the rest of the Geneticure team has had a fantastic year in 2016, achieving many crucial milestones. At the Accelerator, we want to support them as they continue to grow."

The firm now has 10 employees, most which live or work in Rochester.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's fun to bring it home. We want to help the local economy and be part of the startup ecosystem that's growing here," said Eric Snyder. "And we thought it was important to build connections here."

The Snyders already tapped into Mayo Clinic's wealth of experience in this area by bringing on David Herbert as a senior adviser in August. The retired Mayo Clinic executive served as chair for Global Business Solutions from 2011 to 2014 and director of business development at Mayo Medical Laboratories from 1998 to 2008. Before all of that, he worked at Mayo Medical Ventures.

"Geneticure is demonstrating how personalized medicine can improve patient care with tools physicians can use now to better dial in the right hypertension drug for each patient from amongst all the treatment options," Herbert said when he was hired last summer.

While Geneticure is not the only firm creating tests for how patients respond to drugs, they are targeting conditions that involve how multiple organs respond to multiple medications. Many other companies have tests that focus solely on how a patient metabolizes a drug.

"Our main competition is the status quo of trial and error," said Scott Snyder.

Hypertension is an ideal candidate for Geneticure's test. About 50 percent of patients diagnosed with the condition haven't gotten it under control. Plus, about 5 million more people are diagnosed every year. A test that can reduce the time needed to identify the best medication mix for a patient could eliminate an estimated 1 million medical visits per year, according to Geneticure. That could add up to a potential savings of $13 billion annually.

Another factor that makes this new testing system attractive is "the low-risk hurdle." Doctors diagnose patients with hypertension, and they use traditional drugs to treat the condition. This test just shortens the fine-tuning process.

Snyder says Geneticure is talking to 30 to 50 health systems about adopting their system.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hypertension could just be the beginning. The Geneticure team also is studying two other conditions for possible future testing panels. Snyder declined to name which ones for proprietary reasons.

e089fcaacb4b07fe59ad407b8dabc3c1.jpg
Scott Snyder

What to read next
Town hall on health care in rural Minnesota looks into structural solutions for a looming crisis in outstate hospitals, one that could soon leave small towns struggling to provide the basics of care.
A dog's sense of smell has helped to find missing people, detect drugs at airports and find the tiniest morsel of food dropped from a toddler's highchair. A new study shows that dogs may also be able to sniff out when you're stressed out.
Do you get a little bit cranky after a sleepless night? In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams explores how sleep deprivation can do a lot more damage than just messing with your mornings. It may also make people less willing to help each other.
An early frost can mean a sudden end to the growing season. But there are ways to protect plants from dipping temperatures. In this episode of "Health Fusion," Viv Williams has tips on how to cover your flowers and vegetables so you can enjoy the health benefits of gardening longer into the fall season.