Healthcare Startup Genetesis: Chest Pain Triage in 90 Seconds
Genetesis is medical devices company currently in its clinical trial stage. The company focuses on using magnetocardiography (MCG) technology to simplify the chest pain triage process, shortening what is currently a 10+ hour long endeavor into a 90 second procedure.
Genetesis recently raised $6.1 million, bringing their total funding to $8.1 million. Notable investors include CincyTech, Loud Capital, and Mark Cuban. In 2017 the company’s co-founder and CEO, Peeyush Shrivastava, was awarded the Thiel Fellowship.
I caught up with the co-founder and CTO, Manny Setegn, to chat about the progress Genetesis has made since its inception and the direction it’s headed in the future.
The Faraday Device
Painful for Patients and Doctors Alike
“The problem starts in the emergency room,” said Manny. When you come into the ER with chest pain, you undergo the chest pain triage process to diagnose the cause of your discomfort. The first line of defense is the EKG. And while it’s good at telling you that something is wrong, it can’t tell you with certainty that nothing is. And so a legion of tests like troponin draws and stress tests are warranted in order to ensure that the patients are not at risk for serious cardiac conditions like heart attacks. The triage process is very length and patients end up spending many hours in the emergency room only to be told at the end that they’re good to go.
“It’s like building a case, kind of like a lawyer. If you don’t have enough evidence, then you can’t prove that the person is guilty, or in this case, that the patient is cleared to go home.” – Manny Setegn, CTO and Co-Founder of Genetesis
The impetus behind the prolonged and painful process is that doctors need to cover all bases in order to mitigate risks, for both patients and themselves. If the EKG checks out and the doctor lets the patient leave without conducting the slew of other tests, and then the patient experiences a cardiac complication at home, that doctor could be liable for the damages done. This is an area of high litigation and is associated with a high number of malpractice related claims. This over-testing is not beneficial for either party, with the patient feeling miserable and the hospital hemorrhaging money to cover the cost of these procedures.
This is no small problem; annually, chest pain accounts for 8 million ER visits in the United States. According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, only 6% of these visitors have a life-threatening condition. From another study in the same journal, it was shown that the triage process, combined with overnight stay, can take up to 28 hours. The estimated mean cost per patient for chest pain related ER visits is $1,500 according to a study conducted in 2015.
How It All Started
The idea for Genetesis started with Peeyush back in high school when he was a research intern at The Ohio State University. His work consisted of looking at individual heart cells and measuring the magnetic currents flowing through them. Peeyush realized that no one was capitalizing on this attribute of the heart to diagnose cardiovascular diseases and decided to take it upon himself to develop this technology. Upon pitching the idea to his now co-founders, Manny Setegn and Vineet Erasala, at a cook-out, the three friends began building out the idea along with Peeyush’s father, Chandan. The trio worked on Genetesis through the first two years of college before dropping out to pursue the venture full time.
Manny admitted that, for the young founders, the biggest challenge they face is the lack of technical know-hows and medical knowledge. However, Manny pointed out that the team is excellent at identifying the things they don’t know and attacking those deficits head on. They also have a knack for recruiting talented people who do have that knowledge to the team and have, to this date, built a competent exec board that is capable of elevating Genetesis to the forefront of the industry.
Faraday + CardioFlux
Genetesis’ flagship product, a cardiac imaging device called Faraday, takes 60-90 seconds to complete a scan and spawn high resolution images of the heart. The device registers the magnetic field given off by the heart, generated by the magnetic impulses that prompts the organ to beat. The process is completely non-evasive and doesn’t emit any radiation. The patient goes into the room, removes all metal objects, and lies down on a bed. A 6×6 sensor array hovers over the chest with zero contact. The bed then slides into a magnetic shield to block out magnetic fields given off by the Earth and objects around the patient.
The CardioFlux Application UI
Over a 90 second time period, Faraday collects data and analyses it through Genetesis’ proprietary software called the CardioFlux, which relies heavily on neural networks and deep learning to extrapolate dynamic and functional images as well as a repertoire of useful metrics that can help doctors diagnose diseases accurately.
“We want to be able to give doctors the confidence to rule out patients earlier in the process. Instead of doing 8 hours of tests, we want to put patients through the CardioFlux system after the EKG to give doctors the additional confidence needed to be able to send patients home.” – Manny Setegn, CTO and Co-Founder of Genetesis
Genetesis conducted its first clinical trial at St. John Providence Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. They had sent in the prototype back in July of 2017 and ran the 100 patient trial through February. The results validated the team’s hypothesis, showing that the device has a 95% negative predictive value. The company currently has in the pipeline a 1,000 patient trial, soon to be conducted in several hospitals across the nation.
Genetesis currently plays in a blue ocean market with no direct competitors. While several studies have emerged that investigate the feasibility of using magnetocardiography technology to detect ischemic heart diseases, no one except Genetesis has applied the science in a practical setting. The company plans on submitting their technology to the FDA for approval very soon and hope to begin selling to hospitals by early next year.
Building the Tricorder
For you Star Trek enthusiasts out there, you know what I’m talking about – the tricorder scanner is a device used by Starfleet doctors to diagnose diseases and collect information about the patient’s current state of health. A device that scans the body vitals and tells you if something is wrong… sound familiar?
There are multiple organisms in the human body other than the heart that also give off magnetic fields. Genetesis’ ultimate vision is to create a device very much similar to the tricorder scanner. The company plans to adopt a growth model similar to that of Amazon. Manny commented that Genetesis wants to “establish dominance in one area, then expand horizontally in that market, then vertically expand once they’re financially able to sustain those new projects.” For now, the team will focus on the heart with the goal of developing out the technology to diagnose a multitude of cardiovascular diseases with a single scan. What follows, then, would be adapting the technology to work with other organs that generate magnetic fields like the brain or gut. So, who knows, maybe the tricorder won’t stay science fiction for long!