LabCorp invests $2M in diagnostic startup to identify autism spectrum disorder risk

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PSA blood testA diagnostic that uses a blood test for toddlers to assess if they are at risk for developing autism spectrum disorder has raised $2 million from the Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (NYSE: LH).

Massachusetts-based SynapDX‘s The blood test assesses differences in RNA gene expression to distinguish between children at a higher risk for autism and those who are not. The idea is that each disease carries its own thumbprint that can be revealed in the blood.

Stan Lapidus, SynapDx CEO, told MedCity News in December that the test would be administered to children as young as three years old compared with the norm of 4.5 years old. He emphasized that it’s not a broad screening tool, and would be used for children exhibiting symptoms such as avoiding eye contact and are nonverbal.

At that time the company raised $6 million in a financing round led by North Bridge Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners. It has also received investment from Bain Capital Ventures. The investment would go towards funding pivotal studies. A study of 600 children to validate performance characteristics in children at risk for ASD is set to start this year.

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The technology behind the diagnostic was initially proposed by Valerie Hu in 2006, a professor at George Washington University Medical Center focusing on biochemistry and molecular medicine and was subsequently licensed from Boston Children’s Hospital.

The diagnostic is part of the growing field of personalized medicine that can evaluate DNA to determine a person’s likelihood for developing certain conditions. In addition to autism, companies have been developing diagnostics that read gene signatures to identify the risk of a breast cancer relapse to the risk of pregnant women delivering prematurely to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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