Current tests can diagnose prostate cancer, but it’s harder to tell if your cancer is slow-growing or aggressive. This is a problem because prostate cancer treatments can be worse than the disease itself, so you don’t want to pursue aggressive therapy unless you have a rapidly life-threatening cancer. Spun out of Columbia University but located in Boston’s Innovation District, Cellanyx Diagnostics is a new startup using novel biomarkers combined with microfluidic culture of biopsied tumor cells to assess the aggressiveness of prostate cancer. The specifics of the technology are not fully described, however since the work is based on founder Ashok Chander’s PhD research at Columbia (2012), it is possible they are using biophysical markers (e.g., ExtraCellular Matrix-Focal Adhesion-Actin coupling) measured in a microfluidic experimental setup that controls the surfaces and mechanical environment surrounding the cultured tumor cells.
The team has entered several competitions to date, winning the 2012 Columbia Venture Competition and reaching the semifinals in MIT’s 100K competition. It’s terrific to have another lab-on-a-chip startup out there! I keep hearing about new companies every week — drop me a line if you’d like your company to be added to the growing list.