DermTech is the leading genomics company in dermatology and is creating a new category of medicine, precision dermatology, enabled by our non-invasive skin genomics platform.
Why is your company the best option to solve the problem you're solving?
When diagnosed at the earliest stage, patients with melanoma have a five-year survival rate of 99 percent. But after it first appears, melanoma can spread internally in as little as three to six months, lowering the five-year survival rate to 80 percent or worse. The DermTech Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA) was developed to provide physicians and patients with the earliest diagnosis possible for a disease where timing makes all the difference in patient outcomes. DermTech is the best option to solve melanoma diagnosis due to its early detection, ease of use on the patient and provider and a negative predictive value of >99 percent, reducing the possibility of missing a melanoma to less than one percent. Dermatologists have a limited window of time to accurately diagnose melanoma once a suspicious lesion appears, and this is where DermTech’s technology bridges the gap to ensure early detection and to help end melanoma deaths.
What nuggets of info make you interesting? Why do people care about what you're doing?
The most innovative aspect about DermTech’s PLA is its genomic approach and how it aids the visual assessment of suspicious lesions. Throughout the scientific field, major advancements are made when looking beyond the surface and examining a subject’s genetic makeup. By investigating the driving factors of melanoma’s biology, DermTech has uncovered key genomic factors in catching melanoma early, which has been proven to help save lives. DermTech’s PLA is also used in telehealth. The smart sticker collection can be conducted by patients under the supervision of their dermatologist during a telehealth visit. This is crucial given the pandemic, as more people avoid in-person appointments and are less likely to report changing moles. Before DermTech’s PLA, there was no non-invasive process for dermatologists to detect melanoma confidently and accurately. With visual inspection, if a lesion met any criteria that categorized it as atypical, it needed to be biopsied to avoid missing a potential melanoma. With DermTech’s technology, physicians and patients now have the option to painlessly test for melanoma and catch it at the earliest stage possible.
What else do you want us to know?
Overall, the DermTech PLA has shown that when it comes to stopping melanoma, being bold is essential. True innovation was achieved by overcoming large obstacles to establish a truly new way to understand skin cancer. Unlike most advancements in healthcare, the PLA was not an incremental change. DermTech created a platform for genomic testing that has a wide variety of uses beyond melanoma, which the company will be pursuing in the coming years to tackle other skin health issues and further improve dermatologic care.
BEHIND THE COMPANY
Founder/CEO: John Dobak, M.D.
What is your company's secret sauce?
The ‘secret sauce’ at DermTech is that while we have a great and unique technology, our vision is what inspires us. Every team member feels compelled to transform the status quo. Additionally, a combination of constant innovation and evolution within our company and platform technology. Most innovation in medicine is incremental and continuous improvement on what’s been done before, however at DermTech we decided to take a leap and invest in a platform genomic technology that we knew had the potential to save lives and dramatically improve the diagnostic paradigm in a wide range of skin diseases. The DermTech PLA is the only commercially available non-invasive option, and it empowers physicians with a precision tool to detect melanoma at the earliest point possible.
What inspired you (CEO/Founder) to start/run this company?
After receiving my medical doctorate from University of California, San Diego I was exposed to the biotech world and knew I found my passion. Over the years I served as the Founder and CEO of several venture-backed life science companies in San Diego, and in 2013 I joined DermTech to help propel the technology and mission of the company further. Having a personal connection to a friend who passed away from a missed melanoma diagnosis, I have a passion to help end melanoma deaths, and DermTech’s technology will do just that.
What's the best entrepreneurial advice you've received?
You’re going to hear people tell you “no” or “you can’t”, a lot. Channel that negativity into positive energy that will push you to prove them all wrong.
What's the worst entrepreneurial advice you've received?
Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s part of this business.
What sets your company culture apart?
GRIT/Resiliency, Collaboration, Creativity.