Lakewood Ranch biotech company expanding

jrich@bradenton.comJanuary 24, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Rapid Pathogen Screening Inc. is doubling its footprint, as the biotech company has seen its revenues grow 200 to 300 percent in the past year.

RPS has leased another building behind its current headquarters just south of the Manatee County line, doubling its space to 6,600 square feet.

The company, which designs, produces and manufactures point of care diagnostic tests, has seen far more demand for its products, said Dr. Robert Sambursky, RPS's chief executive officer and president.

The company is expanding its laboratory and product development space in its current building and moving finance, marketing and sales to its new building. A canopy is being erected to connect the two.

"We are transitioning from product development to commercialization and distribution of our products," Sambursky said. The new building will support that commercialization effort.

Rapid Pathogen Screening Inc. spent eight years developing a disposable diagnostic test for pink eye and other inflammatory diseases and is now commercializing the product with a French development firm. The company is marketing the patented test kits to optometrists, ophthalmologists and family physicians across the U.S. and in Europe. The AdenoPlus kit allows clinicians to diagnose the highly contagious viral form of conjunctivitis, or pink-eye, within minutes during a medical office visit. Previously, health care technicians could only confirm pink eye with a culture swab or DNA test, expensive methods that took several hours or days. "These are single use tests," Sambursky said. "We can make the diagnosis before the patient leaves the doctor's office," which prevents spread of the disease and

eliminates treatments that aren't needed.

Another point of contact diagnostic test for dry eyes, already being used in Canada and Europe, is currently in clinical evaluation to receive approval from the Department of Food and Drug Administration, he said.

The company also is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Chemical and Biological Defense Division to develop and manufacture a diagnostic test to detect the body's immune response to viral and bacterial infections.

Founded in 2004, RPS moved from Philadelphia to Lakewood Ranch in 2005. The firm now employs about 30 workers, including eight employees hired in the past eight months.

"Our product development has been very robust," said Sambursky, who expects new products will be released in the next 18 to 24 months.

During the last nine months, the company has brought on board three experts in the commercialization of point of care products. The new board of directors includes Caroline Popper, Hanjoon Ryu and Douglas Berg.

Tommy Klauber, president of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, welcomed the news of RPS's expansion Wednesday.

"I think that's great," Klauber said. "That speaks to what a great area this is, both for companies looking to expand and for new businesses looking to open. There's a million square feet of commercial space in Lakewood Ranch -- that's equal to downtown Sarasota."

Sambursky sees his company as part of the growing biotech cluster in Manatee and Sarasota counties, which is helpful in furthering employment efforts.

"As we develop critical mass for these types of companies, that will bring in more skilled labor," he said.

He expects Rapid Pathogen Screening to grow 20 to 30 percent in the coming year.

"It is an exciting time for RPS," he said. "We have a robust pipeline of products and we are posed for continued growth and expansion."

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