I sat down with CEO Marc Giroux to discuss his career, his motivations, Kurve Therapeutics, and how this entrepreneur is reshaping the landscape of medicine.
Kurve Therapeutics’ CEO and founder is a medtech innovator, serial entrepreneur, and musician.
Marc Giroux is not your typical medtech CEO. For starters, Marc has a unique ability to see and solve problems in unconventional ways. Where others try to reinvent the wheel, Marc sees the opportunity for innovation.
The technology that has the potential to revolutionize neurodegenerative disease treatments was invented to treat his own chronic sinusitis condition. After years of surgeries and inefficient treatments, Marc realized that the available treatments for his chronic sinusitis could not do what they were meant to. The medication itself wasn’t the issue — this was a physics problem, not a chemistry problem.
Marc openly questions long-held beliefs and breaks through barriers that his peers consider impossible to overcome. He’s applied this critical attitude to solve complex dilemmas across several industries. Now, he’s out to tackle some of the most formidable diseases humans face.
Let’s start at the beginning.
An Entrepreneur’s Early Days
Christina: What did you do before founding Kurve?
Marc: I owned a recruiting agency. It was kind of a weird progression. I started out in manufacturing but quickly found that I could actually talk to customers in a language they would understand. While the sales team could do that, they couldn’t speak as technically as I could. So I decided I needed to be on the other side of the desk.
I used recruiters in the business that I worked in, so I looked at that job and said “I could do this job better than you. You don’t understand what I do at all.” That’s how I got into recruiting and eventually founded my own recruiting agency. I had almost immediate success because of my business experience on the other side of the desk.
If you want something done right, you usually have to take the reins and do it yourself. That drive and determination is the spark that brought Kurve to fruition and set Marc on a path to make an exponential change in the neurodegenerative disease field.
Team-Building as a Superpower
Running a firm in Seattle around the turn of the century meant Marc was at ground zero for the dot-com era and worked globally on the Y2K bug. His experience in finding entire C-level executive teams for high-tech founders meant that he not only knew how to find exactly what a client needed but was also an expert in team-building and formation. It helped him cultivate an all-star team at Kurve Therapeutics.
Christina: How has your experience as a recruiter and expert in team-building formation helped you build Kurve’s team?
Marc: Team-building is a unique skill. There’s always a set of required skills a particular executive can meet, right? They have to have ten-plus years, an MBA, and the relevant experience that goes with it — and they won’t get the interview unless they have that. But it’s not just that. The specialty part, a very important part, is “What kind of person do you actually want?” Do you want someone with a sense of humor or someone who is serious all the time? Trying to find a person’s true personality during an interview for a CFO position is not easy.
Glenn (Kurve’s Chief Science Officer) was actually a client first. We had a Material Transfer Agreement with Glenn when he was working on autism. As he learned more about our technology, he just got more and more involved in what was possible. He pitched me on him, which was a refreshing change. He had valuable suggestions and we learned a lot from him.
Tom (Kurve’s COO) started out as our consultant 14 years ago but had essentially been operating as our CFO for years. He’s a believer and has seen it in action. Years ago, while we were starting out, Tom said, “This company has to make it, this company has to get to the end game and help all these people.”
The Kurve Spark
Oftentimes, the end of the rope leads to the moment of true innovation. Marc spent his entire adult life battling chronic sinusitis. Five surgeries, countless treatments, and hundreds of doctor visits brought no cure or sufficient results. He believed he reached the limitations of what doctors could do for his condition. It was at that moment he asked his doctor if the medications work, to which he was told that the drugs work fine … they just can’t get to where the problem is. That’s when the spark ignited — Marc realized this was not a chemistry problem, it was a physics problem.
The only logical choice for Marc was to develop his own technology that could deliver medication where it needed to go. That spark lit the fuse to what is now Kurve’s patented Controlled Particle Dispersion (CPD)® technology.
Once word got out about how successful he had been at treating his own chronic condition, and how much better his technology was at delivering drugs in the nasal cavity while keeping them out of the stomach and lungs, the floodgates opened.
From Sinusitis to Alzheimer’s: Taking on the Impossible
The “nose-to-brain” crowd, as Marc puts it, came knocking.
Having already done something the world had never seen, his next mission was to take on the truly impossible.
The first time I met Marc, he told me, “We do this because we can and because we have to.” A one-sentence mission statement has scarcely had such a profound impact.
Christina: You could have taken an easy out and just cured yourself or gone into the sinusitis industry — why take on such complex, seemingly untreatable diseases?
Marc: Initially, the nose-to-brain people came to us and asked for our help. It became a project where if we could help, why not try? So we did that and we were successful at it. We weren’t initially as excited about nose-to-brain as we would eventually become, because there were so many unknowns. It turns out that all of our fears were really not all that relevant.
Christina: What was your “a-ha” moment when everything clicked and you knew this might actually become successful?
Marc: Our first clinical study with 15 Alzheimer’s patients. They all tested better coming out and that exceeded the study goals. Initially, they were hoping to just be the same, to arrest the disease — they didn’t expect to gain any traction. It took about 18 months to publish that data because everyone had to read it first to make sure it wasn’t ridiculed for being too good. In the beginning, everybody was saying it was a fluke, it was never going to work. There were so many detractors, but we just had to persevere. We started spending more time with the principal investigators, the showrunners, and the FDA. The “a-ha” moment came when we got a call from the principal investigator saying, “Great news, everybody tested better!” We were sitting around the conference table and we didn’t know how to react. We thought, “Oh, I guess we’re in this business now.”
Nothing Is Accomplished Alone
As much as Marc Giroux values his work, he values his family even more.
Christina: Was your family surprised when you started Kurve and wanted to treat CNS disorders?
Marc: The best story I can tell you about Kurve’s origins involves my wife, Patricia. We built our recruiting company together and we were successful as recruiters. But once I saw what we could do with Kurve — how many people we could help — I knew I had to go after it. So what I told Pat was, “This thing that I just built and tested at the University of Washington is doing things everyone thought were impossible. We could build a company out of it and help millions of people.” So I laid it all out for her and she said, “Okay, let me get this straight. You want to build a machine that does things no one’s ever done before. You want to go into an industry you know nothing about, and you want to take our life savings and put it into building this.” And I sat down and said, “Yep, that’s about it.” She stopped there for a minute, she kind of just stared at me and blinked three times, and said, “Okay.”
Marc’s children had similar reactions, encouraging him to go for it no matter what. They are compassionate, supportive, and believe in Kurve’s mission wholeheartedly.
Marc believes in taking risks and following one’s passions. He turned down a full-ride scholarship to play guitar when he was 18 because he wanted to follow his own path. He’s extended that same opportunity to his children. All four of his children lead impressive lives, doing things that they’re passionate about — from documentaries and working in the foreign service to working in pharmaceutical sales and medical device companies.
A Billion Opportunities
One in six people suffers from neurological disorders. That’s over a billion people.
With the right technology, debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and MS can be treated efficiently. Marc recognized early on that Kurve’s technology could positively impact the lives of countless people — by doing what’s never been done before.
Christina: CNS disorders have an enormous economic cost — dementia alone is at a staggering $1.3 trillion per year. What does an advancement like Kurve’s mean for this market?
Marc: Well, it should mean a lot. There are 600 neurological diseases out there, most of which are orphan conditions with little to no treatment options. Our new technology, which allows us to move drugs around to specific parts of the brain, would allow us to be a central player in the market. We can get approved drugs and generic drugs where they need to go, to truly treat these conditions.
Multi-system atrophy is like having five different neurodegenerative diseases at the same time. The mortality rate is about two years. We have patients with MSA who have been using our device for more than two years. They still work and have a job.
We want to partner across the board — with private companies and big pharmaceutical companies. We want to encourage patients and doctors to contact us. If a patient is told to get an infusion, we want them to call us instead and get the dose flexibility we offer. We can do better for the patient. An infusion has you sitting in a chair for an hour or three hours twice a month. Our device is used at home for a minute and a half in the morning and gets 3,000% more medication into the brain.
The Best Job in the World
Christina: We talk a lot about facts and figures, market size, and the global population for CNS disorders. But aside from the very massive numbers — both monetary and the number of people affected — these diseases are truly debilitating. What does a CNS disorder really look like in terms of an individual patient’s life?
Marc: We spend a lot of time on camera with these patients, so it gets to be a fun ride when they start doing better. We had a Lewy body dementia patient who couldn’t walk or talk, and one Christmas she walked up to the camera and said hi. It can be emotional because the spouse is always crying, and the patients’ families are always crying and thanking us for giving them back their loved ones. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is truly devastating for a patient and their family. Being able to give them hope and a better quality of life … well, it’s just the best job in the world. You get to have a positive impact on people who were essentially hopeless.
Hope for Alzheimer’s Patients
There are 58 million people living with Alzheimer’s around the world. In the United States alone, someone develops Alzheimer’s every 60 seconds. The number of people with the disease is set to double every 20 years.
Christina: If so many people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, why haven’t there been any significant advancements in Alzheimer’s treatments?
Marc: The blood-brain barrier is like the 400-pound gorilla, right? Everybody is trying to figure out that aspect of drug delivery to the brain. Crossing it involves chemistry. That’s what big pharma does — they use chemistry. They think that’s how they’ll solve it because that’s how they solve everything. But they generally don’t have physics or mechanical people on staff because that’s not what they’re good at, that’s not what they do. It’s a level of “What’s the definition of insanity?” in these cases.
Kurve’s patented technology is designed to bypass the blood-brain barrier — the main challenge in delivering drugs to the brain. While most companies have been spinning the same wheel for decades, Marc and his team have figured out how to solve a physics problem. Drugs delivered through their device in clinical studies have yielded higher results than infusions and oral medications. They’ve exhibited reduced side effects and significantly less toxicity.
Be a Part of the Next Chapter
Kurve has launched its Regulation A+ offering, open to the general public for investments. This means anyone can become an investor in Kurve’s next-gen medtech and drug formulations, joining Marc on his journey to create more efficient treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Kurve’s patented technology is one Phase III clinical trial away from being ready for market launch. The millions of people suffering from central nervous system disorders without sufficient treatment options need Kurve’s help — and yours.
Visit kurvetx.com to learn how you can be a part of reshaping the future for millions of patients.