(Last Updated: November 17, 2016 @ 2:33pm PT)
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
New Orleans and Louisiana are probably not the first places to come to mind when thinking about biotech hotspots. But the state and city are making efforts, and one of those is the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, a nonprofit business incubator. This state-of-the-art facility has already assisted almost 100 new companies in the region.
Yesterday, four biotechs pitched their companies at the BioChallenge, an annual pitch competition hosted by the BioInnovation Center. Here’s a look at the four finalists.
1. Carre BioDiagnostics
Carre, founded by T. Cooper Woods, an assistant professor in Tulane University School of Medicine’s physiology department, and Keith Crawford, have developed a clinical diagnostic test that can identify a protein marker in blood that is linked to hardening of the arteries in patients with chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease. The company plans to move forward with clinical tests by the end of next year.
2. Chosen Diagnostics
Founded by Sunyoung Kim, an associate professor in the Louisiana State University School of Medicine’s biochemistry and molecular biology department, Chosen Diagnostics has developed a diagnostic biomarker test to diagnose necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants, a harmful bowel disease. So far, the company has conducted human trials in 49 patients, which accurately identified the disease in 93 percent of cases.
The company was founded by Konstantin Dolgan and Avery Lorenzato. Dolgan has a PhD in materials and infrastructure system engineering. He and a team of Louisiana Tech University researchers created a high-quality graphene production process that can be incorporated into paint. It can absorb electromagnetic radiation and protect medical equipment and other sensitive electronics.
Grapheno has four employees, including Onega Ulanova, who is managing business development and public relations. It launched with a $20,000 research grant, and estimates it needs to raise another $600,00 in seed funding. Samsung recently approached the company about uses in consumer electronics products.
4. Segue Therapeutics
Segue was founded by Jim Cardlli, a retired professor of molecular biology at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. The company is using high-content imaging screens to evaluate off-patent drugs as an alternative treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Segue currently has eight contract employees. It raised $195,000 in angel investments and is hoping to close a $300,000 seed round before Christmas.
The four companies competed for a $25,000 grand prize. In addition, there is a New Orleans BioFund Prize, a $25,000 investment, and the Audience Favorite Award of $2,500 cash.
Chosen Diagnostics was the winner of the Grand Prize as well as the $2,500 Audience Favorite while Carre BioDiagnostics took home the $25,000 BioFund investment prize.
The company’s Allosterix Dx molecular diagnostic kit is described on the company’s website as, “A novel method for measuring multiple structural changes that are integrated in allosteric drug response. It can be used to classify patient polymorphisms and differential drug response.”
Its Neonatal DDX molecular diagnostic kit, is described as, “A biomarker test to diagnose a common and life-threatening bowel disease in preterm infants. It offers more accurate results than current options and allows earlier medical intervention.”