Testing the market

Arthur Brown started ChanTest Inc. in 1999 with two employees, and in three years, has grown the company to 18 employees and $2.4 million in revenue by testing more than 400 drugs. The Cleveland-based firm specializes in testing the safety of drugs for pharmaceutical companies and drug discovery research, and has been profitable since its inception.

One of its keys to success has been recognizing the need by regulatory agencies worldwide for pre-clinical tests that could predict whether noncardiac drugs might cause sudden cardiac death.

Chairman and CEO Brown developed a testing method that was a strong predictor of this side effect and has been in great demand by the pharmaceutical industry, which has seen several drugs with sales of greater than $1 billion pulled because of the danger of cardiac arrest.

“We deliver good lab practice products of the highest quality with fast turnaround time,” says Brown. “We can do this because we have the most outstanding group of research scientists dedicated to these ion channel-based assays anywhere in the world.”

This range of expertise sets ChanTest apart from its few competitors.

“We serve a small niche market with an essential product and we have assembled the most firepower in the world to deliver the product,” says Brown.

Despite its current proficiency, Brown knows the company has to keep getting better and faster to stay on top.

“The biggest challenge will be technological — development of assays that are faster and cheaper than ours,” says Brown. “We meet this challenge by being beta site tester for the instrument companies that are trying to develop these new technologies. Because we have the largest experience in our market, we are attractive collaborators for these companies.”

Brown also has other goals to keep the company moving forward.

“During (the next 18 months) we will bring a fast, cheap high throughput safety testing screen online,” says Brown. “This screen will complement our present products and give us a large competitive advantage. We will accelerate our drug program this year. Over the next two years we will develop a more general platform of ion channel target discovery that will be based on and utilize our present expertise in ion channels.” How to reach: ChanTest Inc., (216) 332-1665