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Alive and Kicking, Luminex Spinoff RBM Puts xMap Technology to Work

NEW YORK, Nov. 5 - Rules-Based Medicine, the Luminex spinoff launched in September, is up and running with staff, customers, revenues, and a long-range project to create new blood-based diagnostic tests, said Mark Chandler, RBM's chair and CEO.


The firm's ambition: to commercialize diagnostic and toxicological applications of Luminex's xMap technology, a bead-based technology for signal detection.


RBM's plan is to identify and characterize disease-associated serum analytes in order to develop diagnostic panels, said Chandler, former president and CEO of Luminex. During the next 18 to 24 months, the company will explore 55 different diseases as it analyzes blood samples from healthy controls and patients to identify clinically useful markers.


Markers that function as clear indications of disease will be "made available to major diagnostic partners to commercialize," Chandler told GenomeWeb.


According to Chandler, RBM has had "surprising" success marketing a toxicology test to pharmaceutical companies. Through this service, drug developers send samples of human or mouse blood to RBM, which creates a biological profile of a drug candidate by testing for analytes like hormones, steroids, cytokines, and antibodies.


The test, which costs $450, describes 150 analytes in humans. For mouse samples, a $250 test analyzes 90 different serum proteins.


"That's been the biggest source of revenue for us," Chandler said. "It's really surprised us how quickly it's taken off." He said that the company had "most" of the major pharmaceutical companies as customers, but would not specifically name them.


RBM's cash comes from this service and from Chandler's own pockets--the company won't be looking for outside investors anytime soon, he said.  It currently has a staff of 15, including Luminex recruits like chief scientific officer Ralph McDade and chief medical officer Michael Spain, and plans to recruit additional R&D personnel next year. RBM's president is Craig Benson, who was previously heading the European division of SCI.


RBM has also launched a sister nonprofit, the Foundation for Rules-Based Medicine, which would be eligible for charitable support from funders like the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. This nonprofit's goal would be to develop the same diagnostic technology for use in poor areas where experienced diagnosticians may not be available.


"We think it's one of the more powerful applications of the technology," Chandler said. "A nurse practitioner could take one drop of blood, run our test, and as good a diagnosis as you can get at the Mayo clinic."

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