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St. Pete a new location for kidney research startup

Veronica Brezina



Image: Unsplash/National Cancer Institute.

Renalytix, a publicly-traded company using artificial intelligence to find clinical diagnostic solutions for kidney disease, has opened a laboratory and office in St. Petersburg. 

Tom McLain, president of New York-based Renalytix, worked with site selection consultant Mike Gilson on securing a temporary facility on Pasadena Avenue, according to the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp.’s Wednesday announcement. 

“A dozen years ago, I worked on a startup in St. Pete, and we couldn’t get leadership to come here. Today, St. Pete and the Tampa Bay region are extremely attractive. People get excited about relocating here,” McLain said in a statement.

McLain was previously the CEO of local biotech company Claro Scientific, a novel optics-based diagnostic startup. Its core tech product SpectraWave, which was developed at the University of South Florida, allows patients and doctors to receive results for certain blood tests within minutes instead of hours. 

McLain has since served as a CEO at other medtech companies. He joined Renalytix in 2019.

Former EDC CEO J.P. DuBuque was instrumental in connecting with McLain about opening an office in the city. The options for facilities, access to commercial and clinical leadership in Florida, qualified personnel, and recruiting options were the primary factors in McLain’s business decision, according to the EDC. 

Renalytix (NASDAQ: RNLX) uses an AI-enabled algorithm to analyze biomarker values from a patient’s blood sample and health record to determine a patient’s risk for a rapid decline in kidney function. 

The company’s lead product, KidneyIntelX, has been granted a breakthrough designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is designed to help make significant improvements in kidney disease prognosis and treatment to slow or halt progression early and help patients avoid end-stage kidney disease, dialysis or transplants. The company is working on additional products to measure changes in kidney health over time, identify the most effective therapy for a specific patient and monitor their response to therapy.

In the company’s third-quarter financial report, executives noted the business expansion is due to the robust direct primary-care-to-physician sales in the Florida and Texas markets. However, the company experienced a $32.2 million operating loss over the past nine months from medical testing and the cost of materials. The report also highlighted Renalytix’s milestones, including completing a $20.3 million equity financing led by institutional investors in February. 

Renalytix currently has three local employees, but McLain expects to hire three more by the end of the year. He plans to grow the headcount to 20 by 2024, once Renalytix has a permanent facility. 

The Tampa Bay metro is home to several other healthtech startups including St. Petersburg-based RxLive, a provider of a tech-enabled marketplace of clinical pharmacists. RxLive uses predictive analytics technology that delivers concierge medication counseling to providers’ patients, such as predicting which patients are at a higher risk of going into a hospital based on their medication history. 

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