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New Article on ProstaGene in the Philadelphia Business Journal from Senior Reporter John George:

A Montgomery County biotechnology company has raised $400,000 from private investors.

ProstaGene, which is based at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research in Wynnewood, Pa., has developed a gene-based technology to help guide treatment decisions for patients with a type of cancer where immediate treatment is not always recommended.

ProstaGene is developing gene-based technology to diagnose and treat prostate cancer.

The technology was developed by ProstaGene founder Dr. Richard Pestell, who was formerly director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University.

Pestell said prostate cancer patients receive what is known as a Gleason score based upon an evaluation of the microscopic appearance of cancer cell tissue. No immediate intervention is typically recommended for patients with low Gleason scores, where the tumor cells are likely to be less aggressive and tend to grow and spread slowly. Pestell said patients with scores that are in the middle of the high and low ranges, and their clinicians, can struggle to determine the best course of treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and about 181,000 new cancers of prostate were diagnosed in the United States last year. While prostate cancer can be a serious disease, the American Cancer Society notes most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it — and more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

ProstaGene’s test can show which patients in the gray area of the Gleason scale and are candidates for more aggressive cancer treatment based on the presence of certain genes.

“Some patients can an receive an ambiguous Gleason score,” Pestell said. “Our test allows patients and doctors to make a decision about aggressive therapy rather than watch and wait.”

Pestell said the company is in advanced discussion with two companies interested in licensing the technology, but he declined to identify the companies.

ProstaGene, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, just raised $400,000 from private investors. Those funds, Pestell said, are being used to help commercialize the technology. The company has raised $1.5 million since its inception in 2011.

The company’s investors include Thomas Jefferson University. Pestell, who is a faculty member at the Philadelphia medical school, praised Jefferson President and CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko for supporting entrepreneurs, as well as efforts, to bring research discoveries to the patient bedside.

ProstaGene is also continuing to develop a diagnostic test that uses urine samples to replace needle biopsies for an initial diagnosis. The diagnostic test in two published retrospective clinical studies, according to the company, distinguishes benign from malignant prostate cancer with a predictive value of more than 98 percent, Pestell said.

The company expects to have clinical test results of the diagnostic test later this year, which could be used as part of an application to seek regulatory approval for the product.

Pestell said ProstaGene is also looking to integrate its molecular diagnostics with novel therapeutic screening to develop new treatments that prevent and treat metastasis in prostate, breast and other cancers.

Read the full article at Philadelphia Business Journal (Subscription Required).

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