New product would monitor cancer cells without a blood draw

2013-03-07T13:30:00Z 2013-05-14T17:58:49Z New product would monitor cancer cells without a blood drawVanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | A local and Wisconsin-based biotechnology company are merging efforts to develop a new, non-invasive way of identifying circulating cancer cells in human blood.

IVDiagnostics, located in the Northwest Indiana Purdue Technology Center, and StableBody Technologies, located at the University of Wisconsin Innovation Center in Madison, Wis., announced the agreement in March.

The collaboration will pair a diagnostic instrument platform by IVDiagnostics and customized cancer biomarker reagents from StableBody.

"This is a perfect example of a collaboration," said Frank Szczepanski, co-founder and CEO of IVDiagnostics.

It shows companies can collaborate across boundaries, not only with companies one county away, he said.

The product will tag a patient's cancer cells and allow a doctor to scan them to monitor the effectiveness of chemotherapy or surgery, without drawing blood.

Joseph Firca, associate director of the McCormick Office of Corporate Relations at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, said the companies are creating "ingenious technology" that has no competition in the market.

As the commercial product grows, the companies said expansion and job creation will follow. 

"We expect exponential growth," Szczepanski said.

Demand will continue for lab technicians, research scientists and more in the technology field, he said.

He envisions Northwest Indiana becoming a hotbed for biotechnology, the way Silicon Valley and the Boston area have that reputation.

"Why not Northwest Indiana?" he said. 

IVDiagnostics is about a year away from expansion. More capital needs to be raised to launch the first FDA trial of the product.

H. Rossiter Horn, chief operating officer of StableBody, said the product could be available to patients in a year and a half. But, it could be another year after that for FDA approval.

The product could be available commercially in two to three years, he said.

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