San Antonio — An economic development organization run by the city of San Antonio is committing $150,000 to bioAffinity, betting that the young company can advance its technology and add more jobs.
The company is developing a diagnostic agent that aims to literally highlight cancer cells in patients sputum—basically phlegm that’s coughed up from the lungs. When a synthetic molecule known as a porphyrin is added to it under certain conditions, bioAffinity believes the porphyrin will be absorbed by the cancer cells and cause them to fluoresce.
Beyond the diagnostic, bioAffinity is trying to use its technology to develop targeted cancer drugs through a subsidiary called OncoSelect Therapeutics. The company made new hires in 2016 for its research and development team for both products.
The city-run group, the San Antonio Economic Development Corporation, is getting a small equity stake in bioAffinity—what amounts to less than 1 percent of the company’s holdings, according to CEO Maria Zannes. As a condition for the $150,000 investment, bioAffinity has agreed to increase its headcount from six to to 12 and remain in San Antonio for three years. The San Antonio City Council approved the deal today.
Now, bioAffinity is trying to license the porphyrin diagnostic, branded as CyPath, to research laboratories, including UT Health San Antonio, Zannes wrote in an e-mail. Later this year, the company is planning internal validation trials on the diagnostic, which it hopes can later be validated by the research labs, Zannes says. BioAffinity is aming to try to commercialize CyPath as an early lung cancer test in mid-2018, she says.
As for the therapeutic side, bioAffinity hopes to have a lead drug candidate next year, Zannes says. A year ago, Zannes said the company was looking to raise a $10 million round of venture funding. CyPath was owned by another company that Zannes also ran: Albuquerque, NM-based Biomoda, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013. The company reorganized and Zannes moved to San Antonio in 2014, where work started on bioAffinity.