We welcomed Team Metfora to the FORGE Ahead™ Program this month and they have been hard at work!
UArizona startup Metfora, Launched through Tech Launch Arizona’s venture development program, is the latest company to join the FORGE family. They are developing a blood test that can quickly recognize chronic lung, heart disorders, and cancers in their early stages. As the newest members of FORGE’s resident program, Team Metfora will receive mentoring, networking, and other resources to operationalize their venture and pursue outside capital.
Let's learn more about the journey of Metfora from the CEO himself......
My partners at the University, Dr. Ruslan Rafikov and Dr. Olga Rafikova have been studying a lung disease called Pulmonary Hypertension, which is challenging to diagnose. They decided to look at metabolites (a substance formed in or necessary for metabolism) in the blood to see if metabolites could serve as a biomarker for the disease. It turned out that they could, and they were able to detect the disease in this way even at very early stages.
With success for pulmonary hypertension, they looked at other lung diseases, including COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and ILD (Interstitial lung disease), which were successful. Following that, with assistance from TLA, we filed a patent application, and Metfora was formed.
Metfora is dedicated to solving the problem of late and imperfect diagnosis of chronic disease by detecting these debilitating diseases early in their progression using a cost-effective and minimally invasive blood test, thereby enabling patients to get the treatment they need when it can have the greatest benefit for their health.
45% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease.1
The biological process of a chronic disease progresses within the body for decades, but most people only learn about their condition when the symptoms escalate and become troublesome. For many of these diseases, years of high-cost tests and invasive methods follow, and all too often patients get an incorrect diagnosis and consequently the wrong treatment. It can take an average of 2-4 years to properly diagnose these severe disease, preventing the doctor from treating the disease in its early, more treatable stages.
What if there were a test that quickly recognized chronic diseases before the condition escalates?
Through our research, we are developing a technology that detects chronic diseases quickly and definitively. Because of the enormous burden of chronic disease in our country, detecting these diseases early and getting patients the treatment they need will have a huge impact on their survival and quality of life and provide enormous savings for our healthcare system.
1 An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States, W Raghupathi, V Raghupathi, Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018; 15(3): 431
Meet the Founders!
Martin Fuchs, Chief Executive Officer, brings more than 40 years of industry experience. He has held senior product development roles in diagnostics, most recently in clinical microbiology at Accelerate Diagnostics and AdvanDx. He is the co-founder of three companies including CellPoint Diagnostics and Active Impulse Systems. He began his career at Waters, a world leader in bioanalytical instrumentation. He holds two Engineering degrees from MIT and is an inventor on more than 30 issued US patents.
Dr. Olga Rafikova
Dr. Rafikova has worked in the area of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases for over 20 years. Since 2015, Dr. Rafikova has been an Assistant Professor at the Department of Medicine, the University of Arizona, leading a multidisciplinary research group. She is an inventor, translational researcher, precision medicine, and sex-oriented innovator. Dr. Rafikova has research interests in sex-specific therapeutic approaches in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a deadly disease with no effective therapy.
Dr. Rafikova dedicates a lot of her effort to design and test the unique peptide-based therapeutics that, in contrast to the classical “small molecule” inhibitors, specifically attenuate the pathological, disease-driven signaling without affecting the normal physiological function of the protein. She has five active patent applications aimed to treat different cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Ruslan Rafikov
Dr. Rafikov has been working on cardio-pulmonary diseases since 2000. He has published over 60 papers in prestigious scientific journals. Being a chemist by background, he excels in the area of small molecule, peptide, and biologics therapeutics. He has patented over ten inventions. Currently, Dr. Rafikov focuses on the development of a new diagnostic tool with the Metfora team, combining his leadership and knowledge in metabolites chemistry, disease conditions, and data analysis.