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July 01, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 13)

Moving Quickly from an Idea to a Product

Rapid Transition from Laboratory Discoveries to Commercialization Is Transforming Healthcare

  • Gene Security Network

    Gene Security Network provides genomic screening tools that permit doctors in fertility medical practices to determine whether in vitro fertilized embryos, before their implantation, have any of a number of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome. These diagnostics tests reassure parents with difficulty becoming pregnant that their child won’t have a major genetic disease that might require a selective pregnancy termination. Embryonic chromosomal abnormality levels can be as high as 80% in women over the age of 40.

  • Nanomix

    Nanomix has developed a carbon nanotube-based technology called Sensation that can be used for lowcost, disposable point-of-care diagnostics for a variety of conditions. One example is a test for elevated cardiac troponin levels that is reportedly superior, not only to other point-of-care troponin tests, but also to assays performed in a central lab. The same basic technology can also be used in respiratory and industrial sensing applications where lower power consumption and quick access to information are crucial.

  • Nodality

    Malignant cells, even when caused by the same kind of cancer, vary from patient to patient in a variety of ways, including certain intracellular signaling processes. Existing methods of detecting these differences are slow and expensive. Nodality researchers have developed a procedure to isolate individual tumor cells so that their intracellular signaling pathways can be easily measured.

    The procedure is initially being used with leukemia patients, to test their likely response to induction treatment regimens. Initially, the company plans to extend use of the technology first to autoimmune diseases.

  • Tethys Bioscience

    Diabetes is at epidemic levels in the U.S., with disastrous consequences for healthcare costs. It can be difficult for clinicians to know which of their possibly prediabetic patients should be treated aggressively or which should be monitored less frequently.

    Tethys Bioscience has developed a blood test that looks at levels of seven proteins and metabolites that have been correlated with progression to an advanced stage of the disease. The test is able to deliver a score that tells a doctor a given patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes within five years.

    Genomics is fast becoming a crucial part of the medical landscape. For investors, there is a chance to be in at the ground floor of important new markets. Entrepreneurially minded scientists have a chance to take a new idea and quickly determine if it can gain market traction. Patients can look forward to the prospect of treatments that work the first time and can be personalized for their individual medical needs, and society stands to gain from better healthcare delivered at lower cost. Few eras in medical history have been as rich with possibility as the one we are living in now.

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