- Cordance Medical is a startup company headquartered in Mountain View, California.
- The company’s NeuroAccess™ platform is being developed for noninvasive and targeted blood-brain barrier opening.
- We spoke with CEO Ryan Dittamore about Cordance’s origins and future studies.
Cordance Medical is a startup company headquartered in Mountain View, California, with significant investments to advance research and development of their NeuroAccess™ platform for targeting blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening. The company is focused on precision medicine to address brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease.
We recently spoke with Cordance’s CEO, Ryan Dittamore, MBA, about the company’s origins and its next steps in advancing focused ultrasound in the brain.
How was the company started?
Cordance Medical was founded by Bhaskar Ramamurthy, PhD, an ultrasound pioneer whose success in applying the technology in diagnostic imaging spurred applications into brain diseases. Dr. Bhaskar saw the potential in the oncology space and teamed up with Ryan Dittamore, a seasoned industry executive with experience developing and commercializing liquid biopsy assays (blood diagnostic tests which inform treatment options). The NeuroAccess platform uses focused ultrasound to safely and temporarily open the BBB.
How did you get involved in starting or joining the company?
I was introduced to Dr. Bhaskar in late 2020 through our network contacts, and I started working with Cordance in early 2021. I was motivated by the opportunity to take a proven precision medicine model for extending the life of patients with solid tumor cancers and apply it to brain diseases. It was a clear opportunity to leverage focused ultrasound technology for the improvement of patient outcomes.
Tell us about your company structure: ownership, lead executives, and their roles.
Bhaskar Ramamurthy, PhD | CTO & Founder
Bhaskar Ramamurthy, PhD, has over 25 years of experience designing and developing medical devices. He has been at SRI International (Executive Director, Ventures), Innervision (CTO), Siemens, and Acuson. At SRI International, he was involved in intellectual property strategy, commercialization, and the creation of spin-offs. At Innervision, he created a diagnostic imaging system for imaging obese patients. At Siemens and Acuson, he led the development of several diagnostic ultrasound technologies that were deployed and widely adopted. His expertise in medical devices has been sought out by mergers and acquisitions teams for performing technology and risk assessment. He is an inventor, with more than 40 patents issued and pending.
Ryan Dittamore, MBA | CEO
Ryan Dittamore, MBA, has developed and commercialized multiple oncology products used in medicine today. Most recently, he was CBO of Decipher Biosciences before Veracyte acquired it for $600M. Ryan previously served as chief of medical innovation at Epic Sciences. He led the clinical development, reimbursement, guideline support, and commercial partnering of the AR-V7 test (the first predictive test in prostate cancer). Ryan has also held roles at Roche Dx (Ventana), Genisphere (Code Biotherapeutics), and Bio-Rad. Cumulatively, he has partnered with more than 60 biopharma companies, is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed publications, and inventor of 12 patents issued and pending.
Michael Lesh, MD, FACC | Executive Chairman
Michael Lesh, MD, is a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and was, until recently, the executive director of health technology in the Office of the Vice Chancellor at UCSF. Dr. Lesh combines a background in biomedical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a medical career in internal medicine, cardiology, and cardiac electrophysiology (UCSF, University of Pennsylvania). His inventions at UCSF include a method of atrial fibrillation ablation. Atrionix commercialized this innovation and was acquired by Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Lesh invented an appendage occlusion device to prevent stroke (PLAATO) and founded and led Appriva, which Medtronic acquired. An accomplished entrepreneur, he was the founder and CEO of Mitralife, Inc., Evera Medical, and Middle Peak Medical. He served as a Director at HeartScape, Stentys, Abate, Cordance, and KidneyCor.
In general, what is your company’s status?
Our company is a seed-stage startup with several million dollars raised from investors and through grants from the National Science Foundation. This funding has allowed us to advance our preclinical studies and drive development that informs the design of our NeuroAccess device and its associated clinical protocols.
We are in contact with regulatory advisors as we go through the FDA approval process. We’re excited to grow our team as we raise a Series A round later this year to ramp up our clinical research business.
How many years has your treatment platform or products been in development, and what are its origins?
Our NeuroAccess platform has been in development since 2018. Its origin came from Dr. Ramamurthy’s intellectual property.
What are some of the technical challenges your group has had to overcome?
Because we are enabling a noninvasive platform to target a specific location in the brain, there are numerous challenges when dealing with the heterogeneity of person-to-person variability in head sizes and shapes. The bigger challenges are locating the individual regions of interest and guiding focused ultrasound accurately and safely to its targets. We have made considerable progress in addressing these challenges and are now in the implantation phase. Our aim is to provide personalized treatment plans in a convenient and time-efficient manner.
What challenges do you have to tackle moving forward?
In this phase of Cordance, we are focused on the technology and the clinical and regulatory aspects of the business. Additional challenges include financing the company and ensuring that we are developing strategic partnerships that can leverage our NeuroAccess platform.
What are the benefits of your technology over companies?
- Portable and designed for widespread adoption from tertiary centers to community outpatient clinics
- Noninvasive and painless; no stereotactic frames, MRI equipment, or craniotomy needed
- Designed so that patient restraints or head shaving is not needed
- Brain-wide targeting: can accurately target more than 90% of the brain volume
- Designed to seamlessly fit into commonly used workflows in infusion treatment centers
Have you learned any lessons from watching the experience of the other companies?
We are grateful for the strong academic community that has preclinically and clinically explored the application of focused ultrasound for BBB opening. We have been learning from the experiences that have demonstrated clinical safety and efficacy, including devices from our peers at NaviFUS, Carthera, and Insightec.
Do you partner with other companies or research teams?
We are preparing for our first clinical trials this year and will announce our partnerships later.
Is your system or equipment approved for commercial use in any markets? If so, how is it being used in these markets?
Our NeuroAccess platform is not yet approved for commercial use, but it is being investigated in academic and pharmaceutical trials.
Which health conditions or diseases will your technology be used for?
Initially, we are focused on enabling precision medicine (molecular diagnostic and drug delivery) for brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease.
Is there anything else we should know about your company?
Cordance has a wonderful team that includes accomplished engineers, scientists, and business leaders with a track record of developing multiple products used in medicine today. We are mission driven and focused on improving patient outcomes and impacting the lives of patients with brain diseases.