Thursday, February 05, 2009

CerviLenz Benefits From An Ecosystem of Support

Hillary Clinton, borrowing from an African proverb, once observed that it takes a village to raise a child. You could also say it takes an entire ecosystem of support to transform a good idea into a successful startup. CerviLenz, a JumpStart portfolio company, offers one especially telling case study on how many things have to go right for a startup to succeed.CerviLenz produces a low-cost, disposable device for measuring the length of a woman's cervix, a leading indicator of premature birth, which is in turn a leading cause of infant mortality. The device was originally developed in 2000 by an obstetrician in San Diego, who raised enough seed funding to get it patented and approved by the Food & Drug Administration. Still, it stalled for several years, with no clear path toward commercialization.Subsequent breakthroughs in progesterone treatments for at-risk women -- some conducted by the nationally prominent perinatologist Dr. Michael Ross, Chairman of the Board and Medical Director of CerviLenz -- unlocked a far larger market potential for the company, which reignited interest in the device."What CerviLenz can do is provide an obstetrician/gynecologist, nurse practitioner or nurse midwife the ability to do this screening test in about a minute, for about $30," says President and CEO Dean Koch, a veteran of the medical devices industry. "One in eight women delivers a baby pre-term, often with profound effects on the baby and family. CerviLenz's device, which enables doctors to cost-effectively diagnose women at-risk for pre-term birth, will allow doctors to intervene earlier, thus reducing the number of preemies born each year," says Lynn-Ann Gries, Chief Investment Officer of JumpStart. JumpStart's support, starting with an initial investment in April 2008, helped to fund clinical trials that have recently begun in Ohio (under the auspices of Ohio State University). As part of its ongoing guidance, JumpStart is working with Dean to identify additional funding opportunities, which will enable the company to accelerate its path to market. CerviLenz illustrates just how many elements a successful medical device startup requires: from a solid idea with strong intellectual property protection, to veteran operational leadership and medical advisory support, and of course, enough funding at key junctures of its development to continue the path to market. Stay tuned to watch CerviLenz's story continue to develop.
--a newly published mini-article from the latest JumpStart Connect e-letter. You can review an earlier issue here.


At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Cyndy Kryder said...


Thanks for posting this very interesting article. As a medical writer, I'm always interested in learning about new devices and products on the market, as well as the process some of these developers took to get the products to market.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Cyndy, how great of you to stop by. I love the name of your site and the book behind it. Isn't it true that so much of what we do as writers is accidental, at least initially, but if you do it right, that very serendipity provides much of the magic and opens opportunities no one could have possibly planned.

And how timely it is to learn about your practice and your book, because a friend who's trying reshape her career asked about this very niche recently. Now, I can simply point her to you for advice and ideas. I hope you'll stop back now and then and stay in touch. It looks like we may be in neighboring states (I'm in Ohio and I'm guessing from your site links that you may be in Pennsylvania), so perhaps our paths will even cross in person sometime. Good luck with your work.

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Cyndy Kryder said...


Serendipity is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I have come more and more to believe that we need to allow ourselves to be open to all possibilities. Our greatest blessings often come to us by accident.

Regarding your friend, I am always open to mentoring aspiring freelance medical writers.

Thanks for your kind words about our site. Yes, I am indeed in PA, my coauthor is in NJ, so not that far away from Ohio.

Wishing you all the best.


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