Company working to develop fast, accurate, test for infectious diseases; research could create up to 60 new jobs
Madison – A Madison-area biotech company working to develop a new way to test for infectious diseases has been awarded a $500,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The Lucigen Corp. of Middleton plans to change the way infectious disease diagnostics are performed by developing a fast, economical test that could be performed by doctors or nurses in a physician’s office, emergency room, or clinic. Instead of sending out specimens to a lab and waiting hours – or sometimes days – for results, the new test would provide results within 30 minutes. The point-of-care test would still achieve the superior sensitivity and specificity of laboratory-based molecular diagnostics.
“The important research done at Lucigen not only supports the Madison area economy, but also leads to potentially life-saving, medical innovation that affects the health and well-being of people across the country, and around the world,” Governor Walker said. “We’re happy to offer support for this testing platform – the first of its kind – which could significantly improve patient outcomes, while decreasing overall health care costs.”
The WEDC loan will be used to purchase equipment for the project. Developing the test could create up to 60 new jobs at the company’s Middleton facility.
“Physicians today must choose between rapid, simple, and inaccurate point-of-care tests or slow, complex, and accurate lab molecular tests,” said David Mead, founder and CEO of Lucigen, which specializes in life science research tools and advanced genomic and proteomic custom services. “We are a developing a simple testing platform that will provide lab-quality molecular diagnostic accuracy in minutes instead of hours.”
“For the last 15 years, Lucigen has been a leading life-science company that has developed more than 100 biomedical research products and services that are being used worldwide,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “This new testing platform has the potential to significantly change how patients are tested and ultimately treated.”
An FDA clinical trial is planned in first half of 2015. The company is actively seeking commercialization partner and/or investors to support the approval and commercialization process.
The company will start by developing a testing platform for Clostridium difficile (C. diff), a bacterial infection that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. More than 500,000 become sick from C. diff annually, and about 14,000 die from the infection.
“This high-quality point-of-care testing has the potential to improve quality of care while reducing costs at the same time,” Mead said. “It will be able to provide test results in 15 to 30 minutes, which will result in early diagnosis, early treatment and – most important – better outcomes for patients.”
The funding from WEDC comes from its Technology Development Loan Program, which is designed to help innovative companies with promising economic futures clear the hurdles that are sometimes associated with bringing new technologies to market. WEDC has budgeted $6 million for the program – from state and federal funding – in the current fiscal year.
About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support, and financial assistance to companies, partners, and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation, and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.
About Lucigen Corporation.
Lucigen Corporation, located in Middleton, was founded in 1998 by Dr. David Mead to develop technologies for genomics research in academic and industrial labs and genome centers. Lucigen focuses on the development of life science research products and technologies for genetic cloning, enzyme discovery, and protein engineering technologies. Lucigen has expanded to manufacture and sell more than 130 biomedical research products and services to more than 1,000 institutions worldwide. Lucigen has developed a strong and ongoing relationship with a number of major companies in the biotechnology field, such as Life Technologies, Illumina, Pfizer, Novartis, and several National Genome Centers.