Strokes, which occur when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked or bursts, are the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Identifying the cause of stroke is paramount to treating the disease, but unfortunately the reason for up to 40% of strokes cannot be identified and, as a result, leave doctors uninformed to treat patients. Ischemia Care in Dayton, Ohio, has developed a technique to effectively identify the cause of previously unidentifiable strokes, improving patient care and decreasing the likelihood of death or disability.
“Currently, a stroke is diagnosed clinically, including looking at a patient’s health history and risk factors to determine the cause and prevent recurrence. We look at it biologically with a proprietary technique, or through identifiable genetic changes in RNA (ribonucleic acid),” said Jeff June, CEO of Ischemia Care. “We run the largest stroke biomarker clinical trial in the world, and through analyzing thousands of patient cases, we can match up these unique changes to the cause of the stroke. This informs the doctor, who can then treat patients more effectively and reduce the likelihood of recurrence or death.”
Strokes fall into three main categories based on their vascular cause—ischemic strokes from clotting, hemorrhagic strokes from rupturing and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or mini strokes, from temporary clotting. While each shows itself similarly, doctors are most interested in identifying what caused this traumatic vascular event to happen, so they can treat it and prevent another. Treatment for each type of stroke is different, so for the 40% of unidentifiable, or cryptogenic, strokes, there’s a serious risk for mistreatment. Ischemia Care’s patented blood tests should help eliminate this uncertainty and, June hopes, help move strokes down the list of leading causes of death in the U.S.
“Certainly, reducing negative outcomes and improving a patient’s treatment is the number one benefit, no question. These tests can be done in-hospital and inform the doctor’s treatment before the patient leaves the hospital,” said June. “But beyond that, improvements in stroke identification will result in more efficient care, which reduces time of treatment, and lowers cost for the patient and the hospital. We believe this technology has tremendous potential.”
Ischemia Care is right at home in Ohio. Jeff June was a longtime professor at Miami University in Oxford, and the company started in Cincinnati before moving to its permanent location with laboratories at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Ischemia Care was founded with support from the Cleveland Clinic’s Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center, a northeast regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier (OTF). The company has received additional support from several other OTF partners, including the Innovation Fund, Queen City Angels and the Dayton Development Coalition’s Accelerant Fund.
“I’m from Michigan originally, but Ohio is home for me and my family. There’s a Midwest mentality that we carry in our business,” said June. “We’re really committed to the region, supporting other developing ventures and establishing Ohio as an entrepreneurial biomedical base. We have all the resources and talent to make Ohio the center of the biomedical world.”