Breaking business news out of California a few weeks ago turned out to be a big Oklahoma story, although for Oklahomans, the news was sort of like losing your keys only to later discover them in their usual spot.
The big news involved San Francisco-based Crescendo Bioscience, which was acquired in a $270 million deal by Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City.
Nowhere in the Feb. 4 news release that announced the deal were there mentions of Oklahoma, Riley Genomics or Mike Centola, Ph.D. Yet all three are central to the story.
Crescendo Bioscience was founded in 2002 as Riley Genomics in Oklahoma City by Centola, who was then a research scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Centola developed a blood test that provided physicians with a quantitative way to measure the level of inflammatory disease within their patients. He then licensed the technology from OMRF and established the company.
Riley Genomics prospered as an Oklahoma-based venture until 2007, when the company received a $5 million investment from the California venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures, and veteran Oklahoma entrepreneur William Hagstrom was named CEO.
“We nurtured the company here and then received our first high level, A-round of venture capital investment by a group of professional venture capitalists that specialize in developing diagnostic companies,” Centola said. “They are in northern California and wanted to move the company there so they could help build it with their expertise.”
Hagstrom moved west as the lone California employee, while Centola performed resaerch and development for the company in his Oklahoma laboratory. Eventually, Riley Genomics changed its name to Crescendo Bioscience, new California employees were hired and its Vectra DA multi-biomarker blood test to assess rheumatoid arthritis disease activity was introduced in late 2010.