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Meet a CoMotion Labs Member: Chimerocyte

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / February 19, 2020

Welcome to our blog series, “Meet a CoMotion Labs Member.” These posts offer a peek into the groundbreaking work CoMotion Labs startups do and why they do it here. Stay tuned for profiles about startups innovating in software, IT, fintech, life sciences, biotech, medtech, hardware, prototyping, and nanotechnology. They all work in one of our two physical locations on UW campus, or participate via our virtual Lab in Spokane.

Meet Chimerocyte

Sami B Kanaan, President

Brandon E Fleming, Interim CEO

J. Lee Nelson, CCO

Joined: September 2018

Where: CoMotion Labs @ Fluke

What is your startup all about?

At Chimerocyte, we develop molecular technologies to detect and quantify allogeneic cells and/or DNA at levels of sensitivity and specificity that are not reached by currently available techniques. The objective is creating a highly sensitive quantitative chimerism test for use in clinical diagnostics, as well as for scientific research.

What problem do you solve?

Identification of Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) in leukemia is highly predictive of relapse, especially important in patients with poor prognosis and undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation as a curative therapy. Our technology can simultaneously monitor chimerism dynamics post-transplant, and because it is highly sensitive can identify patients with higher risk of relapse based on chimerism analysis as a surrogate marker for MRD. Moreover, because our assays have specificities towards HLA genes, we can detect in some cases loss of HLA heterozygosity, a mechanism recognized to be used by cancer cells to evade the immune system and contribute to relapse.

What’s the latest?

With NIH/NCI funding support, we have established a study including ~200 leukemia patients post-allogeneic transplantation and are currently analyzing data. The results are promising as we are able to identify patients with higher risk of relapse using our technology. This is sparking interest among oncologists working at our collaborating institution: the Fred Hutch and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Our next goal would be to raise funds for the next phase study aiming at streamlining our service by creating a product encompassing all reagents accompanied by a software for planning and analyzing, at partnering with new sponsors and scientific collaborators to replicate our results in a second transplant center, and at initiating discussions with regulatory experts and the FDA for the best path of our product and service to the bedside.

Startup Advice from Sami B Kanaan: My advice as a scientist that aspired to bring a technology from research to a clinical application is to first find support at your research institution. Often, there are dedicated departments at your university or research center that offer guidance and support to help make this transition. Second, find high-risk high-reward non-dilutive funding (through SBIR grants for example), and achieve your initial milestones. If this is achieved, this will give significant credibility for further dilutive funding down the line (e.g. VC and other partnerships/investments).

Connect with Chimerocyte

Want to incubate your startup here?

About CoMotion Labs: CoMotion Labs, a self-sustaining membership-supported program of UW CoMotion, provides a multi-industry incubation environment for early-stage startups with a focus on UW spinoffs. From critical infrastructure (desks, dry benches, wet lab space, and prototyping capabilities) to just-in-time learning, mentoring, and networking, CoMotion Labs nurtures company growth and enables success. Our labs are currently home to over 100 startups and operate in two locations on the UW Seattle campus.