CanDiag’s Early Breast Cancer Detection Focus Garners a $50,000 Win at Charlotte Venture Challenge

The startup venture and UNC Charlotte spin-off has developed a simple blood test for early detection of breast cancer

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CanDiag survived four rounds of competition against 117 amazing early-stage companies, proving itself to be one of the most innovative companies with high-growth potential in the Southeast.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (PRWEB) May 02, 2012

CanDiag, Inc., a spin-off of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte focused on early-stage breast cancer detection, has been named the grand prize winner of the 2012 Charlotte Venture Challenge. CanDiag went head-to-head with 117 other startup companies for a prize pool of more than $100,000, including the $50,000 grand prize.

“CanDiag survived four rounds of competition against 117 amazing early-stage companies, proving itself to be one of the most innovative companies with high-growth potential in the Southeast,” said Devin A. Collins, Assistant Director of Business and Entrepreneurial Development, UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Research Institute. “The company is a prime example of what happens in the Charlotte Venture Challenge when innovative research is connected with an entrepreneurial team and mentors and then put to the test in front of experienced investors.”

The Charlotte Venture Challenge is the region’s premier business plan competition. It is organized by Charlotte Research Institute and The Ben Craig Center in an effort to accelerate the growth of scalable new ventures in the Charlotte region and build recognition of Charlotte as an innovation center.

Founded in 2011 by Pinku Mukherjee, Ph.D., Irwin Belk Endowed Professor for Cancer Research at UNC Charlotte, CanDiag acquired from the university exclusive license to a patent-pending tumor antibody with diagnostic applications spanning the life cycle of cancer patients, from detecting and locating cancer to treatment and monitoring for recurrence. It was based upon this antibody that CanDiag developed a simple blood test that has demonstrated unprecedented accuracy in detecting early-stage breast cancer.

In a pilot study with blood samples from breast cancer patients and healthy individuals, CanDiag’s test outperformed the commercially available tumor marker test, accurately detecting early-stage breast cancer when the latter failed to do so. CanDiag’s test also returned no false-positive results, compared to a 50 percent false-positive rate for the commercial test.

“The anticipated impact of this blood test is twofold: greater peace of mind for women through more accurate testing and improved survival with early detection. It also is expected to lower healthcare costs by eliminating the need for redundant and expensive testing,” said Dr. Mukherjee, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, CanDiag. “It is an honor to have won the Charlotte Venture Challenge, and we are excited by the growth opportunities it creates for CanDiag.”

As the grand prize winner, CanDiag receives a $50,000 convertible-debt note from Charlotte-based venture capital fund, Vaterra Capital. The investment will pave the way for further clinical validation and regulatory approval of its blood test, which may also have diagnostic implications for other forms of cancer.

Further, while CanDiag is initially focused on diagnostics, it also holds an exclusive option to license the therapeutic rights to the tumor antibody. This sets the stage for development of future therapeutic applications, the potential for which has been demonstrated by UNC Charlotte.

About CanDiag, Inc.
CanDiag is a University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte spin-off that has licensed a patent-protected technology from the university with applications spanning the life cycle of cancer patients, from detecting and locating cancer to treatment and monitoring for recurrence. In a pilot study with blood samples from breast cancer patients and healthy individuals, CanDiag’s test outperformed the market tumor marker test in both detection and accuracy. The organization is raising funds for a pivotal clinical study of its blood test and will pursue additional diagnostic, imaging and therapeutic product development and commercialization based upon its tumor antibody technology.


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