Crescendo Bioscience: Helping Patients Manage Complicated Health Conditions
Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are among the most complicated and tricky to manage. They can manifest different symptoms in different people, and therapies that are highly effective in some patients might be much less effective in other patients who have the same diagnosis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one such condition that is chronic, debilitating and associated with serious complications. Patients with active RA can experience joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, tender and swollen joints and loss of mobility. And RA often leads to other serious health conditions, including cardiovascular disease. The bone erosion and joint destruction caused by RA can make even simple tasks difficult and extremely painful and lead to disability. Approximately half of the 1.5 million Americans with RA leave the workforce within ten years of diagnosis. According to a 2010 National Institutes of Health study, the total annual societal cost of RA is $39.2 billion, including $8.4 billion in direct health care costs.
Crescendo Bioscience was founded to help RA patients and their physicians better understand their disease by leveraging scientific advances in molecular-based monitoring that were being used for other medical conditions, like cancer and heart disease. Early and accurate detection of RA, accompanied by effective therapy and frequent assessment of disease activity, is critical to managing the disease.
Vectra DA: Crescendo Bioscience’s First Innovative Product For Patients With RA
Vectra® DA, Crescendo Bioscience’s first product, was launched in 2010. Vectra DA was groundbreaking because it was the first blood-based test to objectively measure RA disease activity. Until that point, standard methods of assessment were qualitative, subjective and unable to identify the underlying biological changes of the disease. Most physicians relied on clinical assessment (typically done by feeling a patient’s painful joints to judge severity of inflammation) to determine disease activity.
There are a number of new, innovative therapies for RA, and a major need exists to help physicians better understand the underlying biology of the disease to manage it more effectively and efficiently. Now, physicians can use Vectra DA to complement their clinical assessment of disease activity in each patient.
Vectra DA measures 12 key biomarkers or proteins associated with RA to create a score that classifies disease activity as low, moderate or high. It helps doctors objectively determine whether their patients are reaching their goal of remission, where disease activity is at a minimum. It can also assess the risk of whether joint damage is likely to occur, and the test can help differentiate RA disease activity from other conditions that the patient may have, including fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Doctors can use Vectra DA to enhance management of their patients.
Offering Patients the Latest Technology to Monitor Symptoms
Since its launch, more than 50,000 RA patients have used Vectra DA. Subsequently, in late 2012, Crescendo Bioscience launched the MyRA app for iPhone, a companion tool for patients that enables them to monitor and record their own day-to-day disease activity on measures including joint pain, stiffness and fatigue. As of May 2013, thousands of people have downloaded the free app. The information collected by MyRA is designed to facilitate better patient-physician communication based upon what rheumatologists have identified as helpful, enabling more efficient and productive doctor visits.
Prior to developing the Vectra DA prototype, Crescendo Bioscience developed a deep understanding of the small but cohesive RA community. The company founders spent extensive amounts of time talking with rheumatologists, asking questions and learning what rheumatologists and their patients really needed to help manage the disease and incorporated their learnings into Vectra DA development.
Bill Hagstrom, President and CEO of Crescendo Bioscience, and his team view South San Francisco, California, as the perfect home for Crescendo Bioscience. With an unparalleled pool of scientific and biotechnology talent and expertise, access to industry-savvy venture capital funding and the entrepreneurial spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area, California offers start-up life science companies an innovative and charged atmosphere that promotes the industry’s best thinking. Trade groups like BayBio offer synergies that companies would need decades to gain on their own.
Utilizing the business-friendly policies of local and the state government, Crescendo Bioscience was able to establish its CLIA-certified laboratory in South San Francisco, where all Vectra DA testing is performed. Crescendo employs more than 100 Californians in its laboratory and headquarters offices.
The Crescendo Bioscience team continues to invest in building trust and developing relationships with its physician community. Crescendo Bioscience works with its academic and pharmaceutical collaborators to conduct clinical trials to show the effectiveness and growing clinical utility of Vectra DA. It has launched numerous industry partnerships to help pharmaceutical companies better understand new therapies that are being developed for RA.
Crescendo Bioscience is evaluating the role of Vectra DA in other autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondilytis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. In the future, the company hopes to develop novel tests that rheumatologists will use to help manage other conditions commonly associated with RA, including cardiovascular disease, to determine which RA therapy might be most effective for a specific patient before the first prescription is ever written, saving patients the drawn-out, often painful process of trial and error they undergo currently as they seek to treat their condition.
In early 2012, Crescendo Bioscience secured Series D funding to help finance the research necessary to bring new tests to market. California-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mohr Davidow and Skyline Ventures are among Crescendo’s investors.