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February 15, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Decode Health accelerating innovations in diagnostics, drug development, and disease monitoring

The Nashville company's client base includes well-established companies that rely on its platform to accelerate biomarker discovery and build clinical decision support tools to predict patient outcomes.

The outlook heading into 2023 was very positive for Nashville’s Decode Health.

The company has been focused on advancing its proprietary data framework and data know-how that builds upon the genomics technologies initiated under the IQuity Labs brand in 2015. After splitting into two companies in 2019, IQuity Labs’ assets were acquired, and the two companies were brought back together under a single Decode Health banner in 2022.

In the final quarter of 2022, Decode Health announced several strategic partnerships, a grant from the National Institutes of Health, and two new members of its Board of Directors who will help guide its growth. It also was recognized in the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s (EC) annual “NEXT Awards” program.

“We are aggressively expanding our partner network to include companies ranging from pharma and diagnostics to medical devices,” says Chase Spurlock, Ph.D., Decode Health’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). “These partnerships touch multiple branches of medicine and involve stakeholders across the healthcare continuum. Our work is fueling an expanding ecosystem of partners that will accelerate innovations in diagnostics, drug development, and disease monitoring.”

Joining us in a recent interview was Julia Polk, a well-known Nashvillian who is the company’s other Co-Founder and currently serves as an Executive Advisor and member of the board of directors.

“We’ve demonstrated how fast, accurate, and scalable our technology platform is,” Polk says. “Large, well-established companies now rely on Decode’s platform to accelerate biomarker discovery and build clinical decision support tools to predict patient outcomes using Decode’s expertise across multiple data types, including genomics, clinical data, and social determinants of health (SDoH).”

As Decode and its innovation partners work to create new products and services, the derivative data assets created are often licensable to third parties. These higher-margin, revenue-sharing opportunities benefit both Decode and its innovation partner by producing revenue streams for both organizations. In a field where data initiative failure rates are as high as 70 percent, and it often takes years to reach a positive return on investment, a key differentiator for Decode is its team’s ability to leverage years of expertise to de-risk and accelerate these initiatives.

Decode Health’s most recent announcements and recognitions include:

  • BD, one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world, described in this mid-November article its partnership with Decode Health. This collaboration will evaluate the utility of a home collection portfolio to detect molecular markers, including whole blood and cell-free ribonucleic acids (RNAs). These biomarkers could be used to detect and track a variety of illnesses – from diabetes to more complex conditions like autoimmune disease. With clinician engagement, BD wrote that the company believes “that home collection could one day enable the selection and shipment of medications right to patients’ doors – no visit to the lab or the doctor’s office, no specialized equipment or complex training. A sample could be collected at home and shipped to the lab.
  • Less than two weeks earlier, Decode Health received a $248,000 one-year grant from the National Institutes of Health(NIH) to create new methods to distinguish relapsing-remitting and progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). As part of its research activities, Decode will engage its machine learning platform that integrates genomic and clinical data sources with social determinants of health (SDoH) information to identify novel RNA biomarkers and clinical or SDoH risk factors to distinguish MS stages. In addition to improving outcomes, this work can also help reduce the expense of managing autoimmune diseases, which cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $90 billion annually. An early, accurate diagnosis, combined with early treatment, has significant cost-saving potential, estimated at greater than 20 percent.
  • In late October, the company was recognized by the EC with a “NEXT Award” in the Emerging Healthcare category for its proprietary “Define, Develop, Reveal, Repeat” (DDRR) method that is the lynchpin between Decode Health’s data-driven research and innovative entrepreneurial model. When applied to complex medical problems, this scalable, repeatable process leads to time and cost-effective discoveries that create significant enterprise value for Decode’s ecosystem partners. Current projects range from genomic data creation to RNA diagnostics and population health analytics to advance precision medicine and promote health equity.
  • In late September, Decode Health announced two new Board members – Don Hardison and Franklin R. Cockerill III, MD, the latter also serving as Decode Health’s Chief Medical Officer. Hardison, Decode’s Board Chairman, most recently served as President, CEO, and Board Member of Biotheranostics Inc., a company developing molecular tests to guide cancer treatment. He previously was President, CEO, and Director of Good Start Genetics and EXACT Sciences Corp. Cockerill is currently a Founding Partner of Trusted Health Advisors, a healthcare consulting and innovation group, and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Before founding Trusted Health Advisors, he served as CEO  and Chief Medical Officer of Analyte Health, a telehealth company, based in Chicago. Cockerill was the long-standing President and CEO of Mayo Medical Laboratories (MML) and Chairman of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic.

“We’re poised for significant revenue growth in 2023,” Spurlock says.

To accelerate these opportunities, the company will likely raise a small round of growth capital as Decode expands its business development efforts and adds to its team to support a growing list of ecosystem partners.

Spurlock continues, “We’ve laid a strong foundation and partnered with industry-leading companies while continuing to advance our platform and collection of data assets that accelerate speed to value for our diagnostic, pharmaceutical, and technology partners. AI (artificial intelligence) has the opportunity to transform healthcare, but it takes time to cultivate the data operations maturity necessary to execute these projects efficiently. We’re excited that our work over the past several years has positioned Decode to be at the forefront of this transformation.”

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