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Two innovative spin-out companies from Children’s National Health System selected by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS to join JLABS locations in Philadelphia and Boston

September 10, 2019
Drs. Finkel, Nadler and Feishtat

WASHINGTON – AlgometRx and Adipomics, two companies that spun out of innovations discovered at Children’s National Health System, have been selected by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS to join JPOD @ Philadelphia and JPOD @ Boston, respectively.

JLABS is a global network of no-strings-attached incubators for innovative companies from across the pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health technology sectors. Start-up companies are free to pursue their own research priorities independently, with access to state-of-the-art facilities to develop new drugs, medical devices, precision diagnostics and health technologies for people around the world.
 
Both companies got their start at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National. The Institute focuses on research and innovation that can improve health for children everywhere.  AlgometRx, which joins JPOD @ Philadelphia, was founded by Julia Finkel, M.D., pediatric anesthesiologist and director of Pain Medicine and Research at Children’s Sheikh Zayed Institute. The AlgometRx device is a first-of-its-kind platform technology that aims to objectively measure pain intensity, type and drug effects in real time by capturing a digital image of a patient’s pupillary light response and applying a series of proprietary algorithms to various characteristics.

Currently, pain measurement is largely based on subjective patient self-reporting using a unidimensional rating system, such as the 0 to 10 Numeric Rating Scale (NRS). A large body of evidence indicates that measuring pain intensity using unidimensional tools like the NRS has not improved pain outcomes.1 In addition, unidimensional self-reported pain scores have been implicated as contributing to the prescribed opioid epidemic.2

AlgometRx is designed to provide an objective pain measurement that aims to help physicians select the correct analgesic class of drug and dosage. Once a drug is administered and takes effect, the device can then be used to determine if the dosage given is adequately controlling the patient’s pain. By optimizing pain assessment, drug selection and drug management, AlgometRx aims to impact the opioid epidemic and the monitoring and management of Opioid Use Disorder.

Objective pain measurement has the potential to also provide better data for treating non-verbal patients, such as neonates and newborns, which was the impetus for Dr. Finkel’s 10 years of research that led to the development of AlgometRx.

Dr. Finkel is currently using AlgometRX to develop algorithms with the aim of identifying the presence of analgesics such as opioids. Citing its potential use for rapid drug screening and monitoring, AlgometRx was one of eight companies selected in 2018 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to participate in its “Innovation Challenge: Devices to Prevent and Treat Opioid Use Disorder.”

Founded in 2015, AlgometRx, Inc. has raised $2.4 million in capital to date and has been awarded $635,000 in grant funding, including a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Adipomics, which joins JPOD @ Boston, was co-founded by pediatric surgeon Evan P. Nadler, M.D., co-director of the Obesity Program and director of the Bariatric Surgery Program at Children’s National, and Robert Freishtat, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator in the Center for Genetic Medicine of the Children’s Research Institute and chief of the Division of Emergency Medicine at Children’s National. Adipomics was founded with the aim to address the global epidemic of obesity-related diseases including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. World health experts predict that one billion people worldwide will be obese by 2030.3
  
Drs. Nadler and Freishtat discovered that exosomes released from fat cells (adipocytes) carry genetic material that can mediate various diseases related to obesity. Through their research, they developed a proprietary method that aims to detect how obesity affects an individual patient’s metabolism before the onset of overt disease. Adipomics aims to create the first non-invasive, “anticipatory medicine” diagnostic that detects risk for obesity-related diseases prior to the onset of clinical signs or even biochemical abnormalities. If successful, this predictive methodology would enable treatment much earlier in the disease process, which is likely to improve effectiveness.
 
The company’s current focus is developing a diagnostic product for the anticipatory detection of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, based on blood and urine tests that measure changes in fat cell-derived exosomal microRNAs that lead to activation of relevant disease pathways. Adipomics is also developing a gene therapy platform for treating single-gene defect diseases using genetically engineered, fat cell-derived exosomes.
 
Founded in 2015, Adipomics has participated in grants totaling over $1.5 million and will open its first international laboratory in India in 2020.

As organizations that share a commitment to improving the pace of healthcare innovation, Children’s National and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS also recently announced their collaboration to launch JLABS @ Washington, DC, a 32,000-square foot facility to be located at the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus in Washington, D.C. The JLABS @ Washington, DC will have the capacity to house up to 50 pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and health technology companies that are aiming to advance the development of new drugs, medical devices, precision diagnostics and health technologies, including applications in pediatrics. The campus is located on a 12-acre portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus in the nation’s capital and is slated to open in 2020, coinciding with the 150th Anniversary of Children’s National Health System. 

Media Contacts:
Children's – Beth Riggs | 202-476-4500| Carbonara Group – Cherri Carbonara | 713-524-8170  or 832-473-6380 
 
1. Clara Scher, Lauren Meador, Janet H. Van Cleave and M. Carrington Reid. 2019.Moving Beyond Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign and Patient Satisfaction Scores to Improve Pain Care in the 21st Century. Pain Manage Nurs. 19(2) 125-129.
2. N. Levy, J. Sturgess, and P. Mills. 2018. “Pain as the fifth vital sign” and dependence on the “numerical pain scale” is being abandoned in the US: Why?. British Journal of Anaesthesia, V120, I(3) 435-438.
3. Kelly T, Yang W, Chen CS, Reynolds K, He J. Global burden of obesity in 2005 and projections to 2030. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32:1431-7.

 

About Children's National

Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation’s children since 1870. Children’s National is the nation’s No. 6 pediatric hospital and, for the third straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded children’s hospital in the nation. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels.

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