Stemina Gives Update on Autism Study, Tweaks Business Structure

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Stemina Biomarker Discovery, a Madison, WI-based startup that is developing a blood-based test for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), announced a trio of updates about its business on Tuesday:

—More than 200 patients have enrolled in Stemina’s study of its experimental autism test that measures residues in the blood called metabolites. Early data from the study—known as the Children’s Autism Metabolome Project, or “CAMP”—-show that “the first metabolic subtype of ASD is being identified in the CAMP study with about the same prevalence and predictivity as was seen in pilot studies of banked blood samples at the Mind Institute at [the University of California-Davis] and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute,” Stemina said in a news release.

While Stemina appears to believe that these early findings show promise, the number of enrollees is just a fraction of the 1,500 children ages 18 months to 4 years that the company is seeking to have participate in the study. Moreover, the data have not yet been released publicly or published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

—Stemina has rebranded its diagnostics division “to more accurately represent its focus on neurological disorders,” according to the news release. The division is now called NeuroPointDX, and it will concentrate on detecting and enabling better treatment of disorders based on a patient’s metabolism. The startup’s other division, simply known as Stemina, is focused on screening chemicals and compounds to see if they could potentially cause birth defects.

—Kevin Krenitsky has joined Stemina’s board. He is currently the president of OpGen (NASDAQ: OPGN), a genome mapping company based in Gaithersburg, MD. Previously, Krenitsky served as chief commercial officer and senior vice president of international strategy at Cambridge, MA-based Foundation Medicine, which built what is essentially a one-stop shop for tumor profiling. (Roche paid more than $1 billion for a majority stake in Foundation Medicine last year.)

“Dr. Krenitsky will be a key contributor to our business strategy for NeuroPointDX,” Stemina co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Donley said in a prepared statement. Foundation Medicine provides services for cancer treatment similar to what NeuroPointDX is seeking to provide for treating neurological disorders, she added.