Crown Point biz announces new cancer detection method
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 1, 2013 11:22AM
Frank Szczepanski, co-founder and chairman of IVDiagnostics, speaks during an announcement of a development agreement between IVDiagnostics and StableBody Technologies at the Purdue Technology Center in Merrillville, Ind. Friday March 1, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2013 6:09AM
Northwest Indiana stands at the cutting edge of cancer management, detection and, one day, even treatment thanks to a new bio-technology partnership announced Friday at the Purdue Technology Center in Merrillville.
IVDiagnostics of Crown Point and Stablebody Technologies LLC of Madison, Wis., have joined forces to change the way the medical profession treats cancer by developing a noninvasive cellular level detection method.
“This is going to change the paradigm of how we practice medicine,” said Dr. Joseph R. Firca, associate director of corporate relations for the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
IVDiagnostics is a biotechnology company that has developed a platform for in-vivo, or noninvasive, cancer cell detection in human blood. Stablebody Technologies has created biomarkers for cancer cells not previously available. Through the ground-breaking development agreement between the two companies, they will create a “circulating cancer cell detection system that can scan the entire body’s blood to a molecular level identifying cancer cells and even dangerous cancer stem cells that lead to metastatic cancer.
“This is a noninvasive way of monitoring cancer cells floating in the blood,” Firca, who sits on the boards of directors for both companies, said.
A large volume of blood now is required to monitor cancer activity in the body following chemotherapy. For many cancer patients these repeated blood draws are painful and some cause veins to collapse.
By using IVDiagnostics’ scanning technology combined with Stablebody Technologies’ biomarker detection for cancer cells, the new device will be able to determine if the chemotherapy is killing or has killed the cancer cells as well as detect whether the unkillable cancer stem cells are present.
While the first step of the technology will deal with cancer management, the technology will lead to cancer detection and ultimately can be tweaked for treatment to kill the cells it detects.
“It’s another way of looking at this. There is no other competition out there,” Firca said.
Frank Szczepanski, co-founder and chairman of IVDiagnostics, said the two companies are in the process of lining up investors and expect to begin the clinical trial process within a year. FDA approval is expected to take from a year to 18 months.
Harry R. Horn, co-founder and CEO of Stablebody Technologies, said since the technology and application have not been presented to the FDA before he expects a certain level of scrutiny at first. However, due to the nature of the technology and its potential for revolutionizing patient care and ultimately saving lives, he expects the process to move swiftly.
“I imagine this will have fast-tracked approval. They will be very interested in this,” Horn said.
Both companies will remain located in their respective states and expect as the technology moves forward there will be opportunities for new employment in both.
“This is a perfect example of collaboration,” Szczepanski said, adding that the partnership shows how important collaboration can take place across borders.
He said Silicon Valley and Boston are current hotbeds for innovation in creative technologies, specifically biotechnologies.
“Why can’t Northwest Indiana be?” he said.