Five former leaders of Large Scale Biology subsidiary Predictive Diagnostics have co-founded Advanced Ideas in Medicine a new company that, like Predictive, focuses on proteomic-based diagnostics for the early detection of cancer.
Though AIM has similar goals to Predictive, it is based on a "completely different" technology, said Guy della Cioppa, the head of business development at AIM who served as senior vice president of business development at Predictive for two years, before leaving the company in June.
AIM expects to launch its first commercial diagnostic test within 18 to 24 months, della Cioppa said. The diagnostic is likely to be for prostate cancer, he said.
Predictive's flagship technology is its Biomarker Amplification Filter, or BAMF software a tool that filters through mass spectra of diseased and control samples to find disparate features between them.
Della Cioppa said that he could not disclose the details of AIM's new technology due to intellectual property and other issues, but that it is based on a "new combination of technologies."
"You can think of it as a mass spec-based approach to analyzing blood and other fluids, but it doesn't have to be mass spec based," he said. "We're a bit precluded from going into details right now. … [The technology] is not based on a proprietary instrument or chip. It's also not based solely on things that are already out there. We have some novel and proprietary informatic approaches and signal-processing approaches."
The words 'pattern recognition' are not part of our vocabulary."
Della Cioppa stressed that AIM's technology is not based on mass spec pattern recognition.
"The words 'pattern recognition' are not part of our vocabulary," said della Cioppa.
Aside from della Cioppa, other former Predictive leaders who co-founded AIM include John Rakitan, former senior vice president and general manager; Gershon Wolfe, former senior vice president and chief scientific officer; David Mannion, former director of information management systems; and Michael Wall, former director of research informatics.
Asked why he and four other former principals of Predictive had decided to leave the Vacaville, Calif.-based company, della Cioppa said he, personally, decided to leave Predictive to pursue other options.
"Opportunities were always getting pitched to me personally, and everyone else was [also] getting quite a few inquiries about the space," said della Cioppa.
Rakitan said that he also left to "pursue other things."
Both della Cioppa and Rakitan emphasized that Predictive did not downsize or lay off any employees, and that none of the founders of AIM had been fired from their previous employer.
"There were no layoffs at all," said della Cioppa. "[Predictive] appeared to have a sound financial plan in place."
Della Cioppa said he and the other AIM founders all looked individually outside the company, and "independently pursued" outside opportunities around June.
"We then ended up circling together about a month later," he said.
Daniel Tuse, the new vice president of business development at Predictive, confirmed that the five founders of AIM had left voluntarily.
"It was an elective on their part, and we wish them well," he said. "There are a number of companies being formed in the biomarker space, and we at Predictive are continuing to pursue our goals." He added that he had "no formal comment" to make on AIM.
So far AIM has two products a laboratory information management system called ALIMS for tracking samples and patient history, and a technology called AIM Data Analysis Technology, or AIMDAT, that is used to analyze data from "various analytical instruments," and to come up with a biomarker-based diagnostic for disease.
AIM is collaborating with George Mason University in proteomic studies, and the company expects to establish a collaboration with an oncology center during the first quarter of next year, della Cioppa said.
He added that pharma companies that don't have an interest in developing diagnostics themselves are likely to be interested in AIM's new technology.
"You can begin using [AIM's] technology very early on, in Phase I of drug development," della Cioppa said.
AIM closed its seed financing round in November, and the company expects to conduct some additional financing rounds before launching its first diagnostic test, which would most likely be for prostate cancer, in 18 to 24 months.
Once its first diagnostic has been developed, the company expects to pursue a CLIA/homebrew route to get an early entry into the market, della Cioppa said.
In April, della Cioppa told ProteoMonitor that Predictive had spoken with the US Food and Drug Administration twice about its BAMF technology. He said he believed the FDA would be ready to approve a BAMF-based test, as long as the test could reproducibly classify blinded samples with sensitivity and specificity.
Predictive is working on developing BAMF-based tests for Alzheimer's disease, pregnancy-related complications, multiple sclerosis, and various forms of cancer, including ovarian, lung, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
Tien-Shun Lee ([email protected])