Sera Prognostics, Inc., announced that its novel PreTRM test — a blood test for early risk evaluation of a premature birth — has won the 2016 Utah Innovation Award in the Life Sciences/Biotech category.
Winners of the statewide competition were announced at 14th Annual Utah Innovation Awards on May 11, in a presentation by Stoel Rives, LLP, and the Utah Technology Council.
The PreTRM test is a clinically validated, proteomic biomarker blood test that provides an early and individual risk prediction of spontaneous preterm birth in asymptomatic, single-child pregnancies. It works by measuring and analyzing proteins in the blood that are predictive of premature birth, so as to assist physicians in identifying early in a pregnancy (weeks 19 and 20) women at risk of premature delivery, and in prolonging the baby’s gestational age.
“It is an honor for Sera’s talented team to be recognized along with this year’s other companies that exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of Utah,” Gregory C. Critchfield, MD, chairman and chief executive officer of Sera Prognostics, said in a press release. “Sera is focused on addressing the enormous economic and healthcare burden that premature birth places on infants, their families and society. Until now, physicians have had few options to identify women who are at increased risk of premature birth, as evidenced by the fact that approximately 50 percent of premature deliveries occur in women with no known risk factors. The innovative research behind the PreTRM test has helped us create an early, accurate and individualized assessment tool that enables physicians to make more informed decisions with their patients in managing the risks of women who need greater attention.
“We believe that this technology will not only benefit newborn health in the U.S., but also will have a substantial impact in reducing the frequency and severity of prematurity worldwide,” he said.
Premature birth (before 37 weeks of gestation) occurs in nearly 15 million pregnancies each year, and is associated with long-term complications that can include cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, chronic respiratory illness, intellectual disability, seizures, and vision and hearing loss. Sera is supported in its development efforts by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Sera Prognostics is a great example of the scientific innovation happening in Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah,” said R. Whitney Johnson, a partner at Stoel Rives. “With its advanced research techniques and robust strategy, Sera developed the PreTRM test to address the severe consequences of prematurity and is now poised to help physicians reduce the impact of preterm birth for mothers and their babies.”