Ohio’s World-Renowned Hospitals Spin Off Groundbreaking Healthcare Companies
New companies reflect the high level of innovation and collaboration in Ohio
By Aaron Pitts, senior managing director of Healthcare at JobsOhio•Published: Mon Apr 23 2018
If you have ever heard me talk about Ohio’s health care industry, you know I’m passionate about it. As senior managing director of healthcare for JobsOhio, I’m probably one of the sector’s biggest cheerleaders. That’s because I know all the amazing things taking place in Ohio’s hospitals, universities, research centers and private companies, and I want everyone else to know, too.
One of the most exciting developments in the past few years has been the growing number of innovative spinoffs from our nationally ranked health systems. These new health care companies are a testament not only to the leading-edge research taking place in Ohio, but also to the collaborative environment that’s so critical for innovation. Hospitals work with colleges, research facilities and pioneering leaders to come up with new discoveries and to support their commercialization.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, for example, has launched several spinoff companies focused on developing gene and cell therapies to treat rare, life-threatening genetic diseases. One example is AveXis, which was recently acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion. AveXis is developing gene therapies targeted at patients with spinal muscular atrophy, known as SMA, and a genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS. Another example is Abeona Therapeutics. Abeona is working on products to treat Sanfilippo syndrome and Batten disease, both progressive and fatal diseases, as well as epidermolysis bullosa, a disease that causes fragile, blistering skin. About 30 million people in the U.S. live with a rare disease. Half of them are children, and many won’t live until their fifth birthday. But these companies are working to change those numbers.
Assurex Health in Mason also specializes in genetics. The biomed company, which spun out of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, uses a genetic test to personalize medications for people with mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Using DNA gathered from a cheek swab, Assurex analyzes a patient’s genes and provides information that helps doctors determine the most effective medications for their patients. This removes the guessing game when prescribing medication, which helps patients get on the road to recovery faster. Assurex Health was purchased by Myriad Genetics in 2016.
Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic, has spun off nearly 80 companies since its formation in 2000. One of those spinoffs, Cleveland HeartLab, recently purchased by Quest Diagnostics, uses unique biomarker tests to measure inflammation, a more accurate indicator of heart disease. HeartLab CEO Jake Orville once told me that his father had lifesaving surgery after the test found severe inflammation. Every year, about 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. That’s about one in every four deaths. But Cleveland HeartLab is working to reduce those numbers.
These are just a few of many spinoff companies that prove how collaboration fuels success and produces better health outcomes. Industry leaders are noticing the medical breakthroughs happening in Ohio, which explains why more and more of them are coming to Ohio.
It’s easy to see why I’m so passionate about Ohio’s health care industry and the state’s growing reputation as a center of life-saving innovation. We are proud of the extraordinary breakthroughs happening in Ohio around the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of health problems.