Applied Proteomics mulls Alzheimer's companion Dx

Applied Proteomics CEO Peter Klemm

With $28 million in fresh financing, Applied Proteomics' first priority is final development work for its colorectal cancer blood test. But the San Diego company is also actively mulling expanded uses for its core technology. Among the options on the table: development of an Alzheimer's companion diagnostic, CEO Peter Klemm told FierceDiagnostics.

Of course, a companion diagnostic would require a drug to go with it. And it appears that a potential drug partner is in the mix. Klemm said the company is negotiating with "an Alzheimer's compound developer" on the project, though he declined to discuss further details. The news comes as Applied Proteomics also contemplates expansion into pancreatic cancer and cardiovascular diagnostics programs.

"At the end of the day, this is a very powerful platform," Klemm said.

For now, the company's primary focus is on bringing to patients its molecular diagnostics test for precursors to colorectal cancer. The company's new funding round is designed to support that work, with backing from Malaysia's Genting Berhad, plus existing investors Domain Associates and Vulcan Capital. Applied Proteomics' cash infusion will initially support validation studies for the test, plus the CLIA certification process by the first half of 2014 for the company's lab now under construction.

Best-in-class precision allows measurement of true biological signal.--Courtesy of Applied Proteomics

The technology is unique, in that it is designed to detect disease at its earliest stages by reading conversations between bodily proteins. A mass spectrometry machine looks for previously defined peptides, or biomarkers, for colorectal cancer. A positive test result would require a colonoscopy to measure the full extent of the problem. As envisioned, it would be a big step beyond the current diagnostic standards, including a blood-based stool test, which can have a low sensitivity and often tests positive when the colorectal cancer is already at an advanced stage. Earlier diagnosis of colon cancer, or the risk of colon cancer, allows for more successful treatment. Klemm notes that 44 million Americans ignore the recommendation for a colonoscopy every 10 years over the age of 50, adding that the company's test could help boost patient compliance with that protocol.

Applied Proteomics would not discuss revenue projections for the colorectal diagnostic but said it would be relatively inexpensive, costing "a few hundred dollars per test." Plans also call for seeking insurance coverage under existing codes.

The company launched in 2007 and employs 23 people. Including the new funding, Applied Proteomics has raised about $57 million, Klemm said.

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