2014 30 Under 30: Science & Healthcare

Posted: January 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Cofounder of Stem Cell Theranostics and StartX Med Divya Nag is attacking one of medicine's biggest problems: the fact that most types of human cellslike those in the heart or liverdie when you keep them in a petri dish. This makes testing new drugs a risky, costly and time-consuming business: 90% of medicines that start clinical trials turn out to be too unsafe or ineffective to market. But a new technology, the induced pluripotent stem cell, may help. Nag's company, Stem Cell Theranostics, was created from technology funded by a $20 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine and is closing a venture round. It turns cellsusually from a piece of skininto embryonic-like stem cells, then uses them to create heart cells. These cells can live in petri dishes and be used to test new drugs. Someday they might even replace heart tissue that dies during a heart attack. Three large pharmaceutical companies are customers, though revenues are small. Nag, who was already publishing in prestigious scientific journals when she was an undergraduate, dropped out of Stanford to pursue her dream. No regrets: "Our technology was so promising and I was so passionate about it that nothing else made sense to me," she says. "It was very clear this was what I wanted to do."

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2014 30 Under 30: Science & Healthcare

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