May 16, 2024

Functional Fluidics, company founded by Dr. Patrick Hines, named one of Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

Empower health
Functional Fluidics, developed by Patrick Hines, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Physiology and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, will be recognized May 21 with a Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award.

A Wayne State University-based startup company developing therapies to treat red blood cell diseases has been recognized with a Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award.

Functional Fluidics, developed by Patrick Hines, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Physiology and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, will be recognized May 21 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, which presents the awards annually.

The Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award recognizes high potential, second-stage companies selected through a rigorous process. Functional Fluidics was chosen based on demonstration of exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, sustainable competitive advantage and notable successes, as well as its intent and capacity to grow.

Functional Fluidics is a biotech company specializing in reliable biomarkers that objectively monitor the well-being of red blood cells, which are key to sickle cell disease. Located on the fifth floor of TechTown, the company has more than 30 employees, three testing labs, and last year announced an expansion into Nigeria, where sickle cell anemia is prevalent. Dr. Hines launched the company in 2014, motivated by his work in the clinic and based on his research in the laboratory on red blood cells, with permission to license his research as a startup company from Wayne State’s Board of Governors.

“Functional Fluidics is committed to defining red blood cell health on a population scale, enabling the development of red blood cell therapies, and improving the lives of people living with diseases impacted by red blood cell health, starting with sickle cell disease,” Dr. Hines said. “We are based in the heart of midtown Detroit and have recently expanded operations to Nigeria, which has the largest population of people living with sickle cell disease globally. Our presence in Nigeria will enable pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa with the same quality standards for trials conducted in the United States. The recognition received from the Michigan Celebrates Small Business organization reflects our dedication to growing a strong business while continuing to put our patients first.”

Sickle cell disease affects nearly 100,000 Americans, and millions worldwide, striking mainly those of African-American or Hispanic origin. An inherited disease, it is caused by a mutated gene that triggers the production of abnormally-shaped red blood cells. Those with the condition can suffer mild to severe pain episodes; greater susceptibility to flu, meningitis and hepatitis; swelling of the hands and feet; blockage of blood flow to the lungs; and stroke, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients in the U.S. have an estimated life expectancy more than 20 years shorter than the average lifespan.

The testing assays developed by Dr. Hines and Functional Fluidics can differentiate the healthy state from the acute crises state in sickle cell disease. The tests can also be employed to identify key biomarkers to assist physicians in developing the best possible therapies for patients.

Functional Fluidics comports with WSU’s Prosperity Agenda, both in its goals to empower health for the university’s urban neighborhoods and fuel innovation for the region’s competitiveness.

“Dr. Hines and his team at Functional Fluidics are most deserving of this important recognition from Michigan Celebrates Small Business,” said Ezemenari Obasi, Ph.D., vice president for Research at Wayne State University. “Functional Fluidics is an excellent example of a technology developed at Wayne State that matured into a groundbreaking innovation brought to the market and now having an impact on the health of many around the world.”

The 2024 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch collectively have a total annual revenue of $414.3 million, and are projected to increase revenue by 18% and create more than 339 new jobs.

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