N.O. Company Wins Grant to Fight Fatal Neonatal Disease
NEW ORLEANS — Chosen Diagnostics announced it has received a $224,758 grant from the National Science Foundation for development and commercialization of its biomarker for noninvasive detection of necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease primarily seen in preterm infants. The test, invented by Sunyoung Kim, Ph.D., CEO of Chosen Diagnostics and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, aims to identify preterm infants most at risk for NEC, to then facilitate personalized care and treatment including management of feeding and antibiotic regimens.
Chosen Diagnostics COO Rebecca Buckley will lead research activities at LSU Health.
Necrotizing enterocolitis is a life-threatening gastrointestinal disease which occurs when tissues in the large intestine are damaged or die as a result of inflammation. Bacteria from the intestinal tract can then leak into the abdomen causing serious infections and/or death. Primarily occurring in preterm or medically fragile infants, NEC impacts over 6,000 babies a year in the United States alone and has a fatality rate of up to 50 percent.
“By substantially improving the diagnosis of this disease, our hope is that this biomarker will assist in a decreased mortality rate of infants impacted by necrotizing enterocolitis, and, allow us to reduce the life-long health complications for survivors,” said Kim. “Of note, the non-invasive format of our diagnostic test, necessary for fragile neonates, affords seamless integration into existing pathology lab workflows, ultimately enabling reduced hospital stays and decreased healthcare costs.”
According to the NSF, the SBIR Phase I grants are awarded to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. In addition to the NSF grant, in September 2019, Chosen Diagnostics was also awarded a $299,641 Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.
“This substantial SBIR grant from NSF, coupled with the award from NIH, afford us the ability to really make headway further developing the biomarker test and eventually bringing it to market,” said Buckley. “Currently, advanced NEC is diagnosed through X-rays, but their sensitivity can be as low as 44 percent, leading to missed diagnoses. With our test, neonatal units will be able to more accurately detect NEC and ultimately save lives.”
Chosen Diagnostics’ research and development is based out of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC), a nonprofit business incubator focused on advancing life science entrepreneurship and technology.