IU Collaboration with Startup Biotech Firm Creates New Diagnostic Test Center
The company, Companion Diagnostics Inc., develops computer-chip-sized diagnostic devices using high speed chemical screening systems to evaluate the effectiveness of biological markers for disease. The company’s founder is Richard Selinfreund, who has a background in biochemistry and physics. He was a Yale University scientist and has been a consultant to Sony and medical diagnostics companies.
The company, which has six employees and now is housed in the IU Emerging Technologies Center on the IUPUI campus, relocated its laboratory valued at several millions of dollars to Indianapolis, said Beth Meloy, chief operating officer of Companion Diagnostics.
The company’s expertise, combined with the research resources of the IU School of Medicine and other Indiana scientists, will be used to develop diagnostic tools to provide faster, earlier and better detection of cancer, diabetes and other diseases, said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI.
One of the first such tools could be a better field diagnostic test for tuberculosis, which would be an important health benefit in less developed countries where TB infection rates are high, said Dr. Shekhar. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a potential biomarker to detect TB in urine samples, he said, and IU could provide the patient samples for testing, including samples from its collaboration with Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. CDI would provide the technology to test the effectiveness of the biomarker testing prototype system. Grant proposals have been submitted seeking funds for this project, Dr. Shekhar said.
The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute was created in 2008 with a five-year, $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to promote research collaborations involving Indiana and Purdue universities, Notre Dame, state and local health agencies and the private sector.
The IU and CTSI collaboration with CDI has been named the Preventive and Individualized Medicine and Technology Center (PRIME TEC).