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Company gets grant to research cancer early detection method

April 14, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Tiny Hagerstown bioscience company BioLinx, LLC, has been awarded a grant for cancer diagnosis research, according to the company's founder, biochemist Alex Kogon, Ph.D.

BioLinx, in the Technical Innovation Center at Hagerstown Community College, has been awarded a $114,000 Phase I, Small Business Innovation Research grant by the National Cancer Institute's Institute for Innovative Technology in Molecular Research in Cancer.

The grant was awarded based on the company's proposed development of a new early-detection method for cancer, Kogon said.

The concept is for a dipstick-type test that could be used to detect the presence of a substance, called T-antigen, which appears in body fluids when a cancerous tumor is beginning to form somewhere in the body, he said.

BioLinx scientists propose attaching a certain protein molecule that could sense the T-antigen to a special plastic using an agent that would cause the molecule to home in on the antigen and make the test reliable, Kogon said.

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If the method proves commercially feasible, the test could enable people considered at high risk for cancer to have their blood plasma or other body fluids tested for the cancer-related substance by medical professionals, he said.

"The need for diagnostics of cancer at early stages in high-risk groups generates a large market potential for the proposed test," Kogon said.

The company will need to prove the scientific feasibility of developing the research into commercial products in order to apply for a $750,000 second-phase grant to commercialize the technology, he said.

Kogon said he and two other bioscientists formed BioLinx about two years ago with the goal of being able to obtain such research grants.

He credits being able to work in the Technical Innovation Center, which provides lab space and business assistance, with helping the company prove it could do the research to get the grant.

"Our center is a high-tech incubator for developing businesses, and we're proud to be able to help this small bioscience company grow and evolve," said Technical Innovation Center Manager Chris Marschner.

BioLinx specializes in the research and development of unique photoactive reagents used in biological sciences and biotechnology research and product development.

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