Chronix Biomedical said that it is partnering with the University of Calgary to develop a commercial version of its serum DNA-based blood test for the early detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.
Chronix researchers have published data demonstrating that the company’s techniques which can accurately detect BSE in cattle before any disease symptoms are evident. Currently BSE can be definitively diagnosed with a post-mortem brain biopsy.
Chronix said that the development of the commercial BSE assay is supported by a grant from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) and Genome Canada. The company intends to begin offering BSE testing services to the cattle industry once the commercial test is finalized and validated.
Chronix’s technology identifies disease-specific genetic fingerprints based on circulating DNA that is released into the bloodstream by damaged and dying cells. The BSE test represents the commercial application of company’s technology, which is primarily being developed for the detection and monitoring of human diseases including cancer and chronic conditions.
Chronix has recently published studies showing that it can identify the presence or absence of active disease in multiple sclerosis patients and that its approach can accurately detect early stage breast cancer with high diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. Further validating the Chronix technology, researchers will disclose additional breast and prostate cancer study results in an upcoming oral presentation at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting.
Chronix’s serum DNA blood tests are based on a growing body of publications showing that circulating DNA fragments can be identified and analyzed to provide a diagnostic window into changes associated with specific diseases. The changes can be used to track the presence of disease months or years before symptoms appear
Howard Urnovitz, chief executive officer of Chronix, said: “Our technology for the first time makes possible the early detection of BSE in an accurate, timely and cost-effective way. We appreciate the visionary support of ALMA and Genome Canada and look forward to working with our colleagues at the University of Calgary to develop a commercial BSE assay. Chronix is also currently developing additional serum DNA-based blood tests for human applications in cancer and chronic neurological conditions.”
Christoph Sensen, professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the grant research program, said: “The technology from Chronix is the first to demonstrate the potential to achieve our goal of an accurate, cost-effective assay that will revolutionize BSE testing, making it economically and logistically feasible to screen all cattle in the food chain before BSE symptoms appear.
“This effort is critically important because the risk of introducing BSE into the food chain continues to worry consumers and hinder international trade.”