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OHSU Cancer Institute Researchers And OHSU Join To Offer Personalized Cancer Diagnostics In New Biotechnology Company

New state-of-the art biotech startup, MolecularMD, shows profitability in first year of operation.

Oregon Health & Science University has signed an agreement with MolecularMD, a private, molecular diagnostics company founded by scientific investigators including Brian Druker, M.D. The agreement gives OHSU an ownership stake in the company and licenses several tests from OHSU to MolecularMD.

MolecularMD, based in Portland, Ore., offers state-of-the-art tests that match specific patients with optimal medical therapy. In addition, the company offers highly sensitive molecular monitoring to determine treatment efficacy and to guide drug selection and dosing decisions. The company's initial focus is on molecular testing of chronic myelogenous leukemia and is rapidly evolving into other disease areas such as acute myelogenous leukemia, glioma, (a tumor starting in the brain or spinal cord) and lung cancer.

A month shy of one year of operations, MolecularMD has secured seven major pharmaceutical contracts with the shortest agreement lasting two years and the longest lasting seven years. Revenue generated from these contracts will lead the company to profitability by the end of the year.

"Our goal is to offer each individual patient the best medicine or best treatment available and guide doctors in choosing the best dose. Each patient, depending on his or her genetics, will respond differently," said Druker.  Druker is the JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at the OHSU Cancer Institute, and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, and is the leukemia program leader of the OHSU Cancer Institute.

Sheridan Snyder, the chairman, CEO, and sole investor in MolecularMD is a veteran startup entrepreneur, who has been a founder and has led successful companies, including Genzyme and Upstate Biotechnology.

The molecular diagnostic market is projected to grow from $13.8 billion in 2005 to $22.7 billion in 2010. MolecularMD is already a leader in this rapidly growing industry that is making personalized medicine a reality for patients.

The founding scientific team has more than 30 years of combined experience in clinical cancer research. Druker is internationally recognized for his contributions to the clinical development of Gleevec (Imatinib), one of the first effective molecular targeted medications against cancer. Other scientific founders include Michael Heinrich, M.D., professor of medicine and acting head of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, OHSU School of Medicine. He was the first to identify PDGFR (platelet derived growth factor receptor) mutations as being the cause of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) in specific patient populations. Chad Galderisi, M.D., is the laboratory director of MolecularMD and director of the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center Molecular testing laboratory. Stephane Wong, M.B.A., Ph.D., is the chief operating officer. He has more than 10 years experience in cancer research.  

Potential conflicts of interest involving OHSU investigators and OHSU startup companies are reviewed and managed by the OHSU Conflict of Interest in Research Committee and the Integrity Program Oversight Council.

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