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Breakthrough Cancer Research at George Mason University Launches New Company

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George Mason University proteomics researchers Lance Liotta, MD, PhD, and Emanuel Petricoin, PhD, have announced the formation of a new company, Theranostics Health, LLC, that will use their breakthrough technology to provide critical new services to medical professionals on the front line of the war on cancer.

Unlike any other existing approach, Theranostics Health's unique, proprietary technology, which was developed by scientists at Mason, will measure the activity of the actual protein drug targets in a patient's biopsy.

Current technologies can provide information as to whether a disease is present, but they cannot provide a portrait of the ongoing activity of the protein drug targets in a patient biopsy.

"Instead of using the current 'trial and error' or 'one-size-fits-all' methods to prescribe chemotherapy, our platform provides the missing piece for personalized medicine that will enable physicians to deliver the right drug to the right patient at the right time," said Theranostics Health President and CEO Joseph W. Reilly.

Through their ongoing research, Liotta and Petricoin, co-directors of Mason's Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, are enabling physicians to provide more effective, individualized treatment to cancer patients through discoveries conceived at George Mason University.

Using proteomics, the study of protein activity in cells, their research holds the promise of a new paradigm for personalized medical treatment.

"Through our research at George Mason University, our goal has always been to provide the missing element to support the promise of personalized medicine. Dr. Petricoin and I believe that Theranostics Health brings us one step closer to that goal," said Liotta.

"Currently, and especially for oncology, most FDA-cleared or -approved drugs target protein function," said Petricoin.

"There is a critical unmet need to measure the activity of the actual drug targets to specifically tailor therapies. As a new class of cancer diagnostic services, Theranostics Health's assay represents a dramatic improvement in the information from which the physician can tailor therapy and meet that critical unmet need."

For phase one of the company's plan, Theranostics Health is currently negotiating collaborative agreements with several pharmaceutical companies to identify drug targets and assess anti-cancer drugs during preclinical and clinical trials.

Starting in 2008, Theranostics Health will begin to work with physicians and hospitals to apply its technology to patient care.

Theranostics Health will provide physicians with a clear and accurate analysis of which protein drug target pathways are specifically altered and activated in a given tissue specimen.

The company initially will focus on oncology-related assays and later broaden its analytical scope to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disorders and infectious diseases, among others.