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Heart testing startup sees explosive growth

Brandon Glenn on August 24, 2011 Source: MedCityNews.com

Biomarker test-maker Cleveland HeartLab has closed an $18.4 million series B round of funding, which was led by two Boston-area investors.

The size of the round is a testament to the explosive growth that the young company has achieved in less than two years of existence after being spun out from Cleveland Clinic — and the new infusion of cash represents a bid by HeartLab’s investors to keep that momentum going.

“We are committed to continuing our extraordinary growth by accelerating broader adoption of our current test menu … and offering new tests that will better serve doctors and their patients,” CEO Jake Orville said in a statement.

The round was led by Excel Venture Management of Boston and HealthCare Ventures of Cambridge, Massachusetts, with participation from existing investors.

Cleveland HeartLab is a clinical reference laboratory that does an array of lipid and inflammation tests for clients, and offers a total of about 70 tests. The star of its five-biomarker inflammation panel is a test called CardioMPO, which measures cardiac inflammation marker myeloperoxidase. A high level of MPO indicates that a patient has a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Among the new tests HeartLab has slated for introduction is one for “dysfunctional HDL,” which will provide physicians with the ability to measure whether the “good” cholesterol (HDL) is functioning normally and lowering the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) as it should. The test is expected to launch early next year, according to the statement.

HeartLab scored a huge win in January 2010, when it successfully appealed a reimbursement decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which led to an increase in the price of the CardioMPO test to $48 from $18. “That certainly helped accelerate our growth,” Orville said.

Those aren’t the end of the impressive numbers for HeartLab. The company’s annual run rate on orders exceeds 1 million and its employment is now approaching 80 people after starting with eight when it launched in November 2009, Orville said. HeartLab is looking for new space on Cleveland’s East Side after rejecting a buyout offer from a Massachusetts company earlier this year.

HeartLab raised a $4.5 million series A round last year, with investors including GlengarySecond Generation and Zapis Capital Group, all based in Northeast Ohio. “We are fortunate in our ability to attract two new, high-quality and experienced investors to the company to help us grow,” Steve Haynes, a director with Glengary, said of the Boston investors.

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