The National Institutes of Health awarded Bethlehem’s Cernostics with a $1.2 million Small Business Innovation Research grant for its lead product, the TissueCypher Barrett’s Esophagus Assay.
A client of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and headquartered at Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem, Cernostics will use the grant to further validate its approach to tissue analysis.
The funding supports Cernostics’ commercialization efforts to use the TissueCypher to predict future risk of progression to esophageal cancer, particularly in patients with Barrett’s esophagus, a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
“Our TissueCypher platform provides deeper and more complete understanding of the cellular and molecular changes taking place within the esophageal tissue of patients with Barrett’s esophagus,” said Mike Hoerres, CEO of Cernostics. “This will lead to improved decision-making for physicians to manage care for patients with Barrett’s esophagus and reflux disease.”
In Barrett’s esophagus, normal tissue lining the esophagus changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine. About 10 percent of people with chronic symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease develop Barrett’s esophagus.
Most existing diagnostic approaches for esophageal cancer are limited in the way that they view cancer progression. TissueCypher evaluates tissue biopsies by using digital whole-slide imaging technology and provides physicians and patients with individualized, actionable scores – to indicate diagnosis, prognosis or response to therapy.
Key collaborators on the grant include gastroenterologists, pathologists and researchers from the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Pittsburgh, who collectively evaluate thousands of patients with Barrett’s esophagus each year as part of endoscopic surveillance programs.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania owns and manages Ben Franklin TechVentures, an incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem at which it is headquartered. The organization’s goal is to help lead the northeastern and eastern parts of the state to a better economic future by building partnerships that develop and apply technology for competitive advantage.