SynapDx attracts $6M for large autism Dx study

SynapDx, developer of a blood diagnostic test for autism spectrum disorders, nailed down $6 million in new venture funding, the company disclosed Dec. 11. Having the financial backing enables executives to proceed with a 600-patient prospective multicenter clinical study for the test. With an eye toward launching the study in the 2013 second quarter, researchers will evaluate the measurement of RNA expression differences to properly diagnose children at risk for autism spectrum disorders.

CEO and long-time diagnostics entrepreneur Stanley Lapidus told FierceMedicalDevices in an interview that the test is meant to fill a gap in both the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

"Along the way the question from the diagnostics perspective has been 'What causes the disease?' At the end of 2012, no one knows for sure. But there is a genetic component," Lapidus said.

News of the funding comes a few days after researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, from which SynapDx licenses the test, reported some success with the test. They compared 66 patients with autism spectrum disorders and 33 patients who didn't have the condition, and found autism-specific markers unique to the autistic patients. As reported, researchers narrowed the process down to 55 genes that were reliable predictors for about two-thirds of those with autism.

Lapidus explained to FierceMedicalDevices that the goal of the RNA test is to identify children at high risk for autism much earlier than current testing allows. Autism is primarily treated these days with intense behavioral therapy, but children often aren't definitively diagnosed until they are 4 years old or older. A successful diagnostic blood test could help identify kids for therapy a lot sooner, perhaps at age 2 or 3, Lapidus said. And such an earlier intervention could make therapy more likely to succeed, he noted.

North Bridge Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners participated in the round, which is classified as Series A1. The Southborough, MA, startup raised about $9.3 million in the initial part of the A round in May 2010, and another half-million dollars from an individual investor in the interim, Lapidus said.

- read the release

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