Ascendant Diagnostics Receives ASTA Investment for Breast Cancer Detection

by Mark Carter  on Thursday, Jul. 25, 2013 12:11 pm  

Senior Scientist Anna Daily prepares a tear sample in Ascendant Diagnostics' Fayetteville lab.

Fayetteville biotech firm Ascendant Diagnostics has received a $300,000 investment from the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority for development of its MelodyDX product that uses tear samples to screen for breast cancer.

Ascendant is developing a method for early detection of breast cancer using proteins found in tear samples. MelodyDX, which uses technology developed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is a low-cost, non-invasive screening method to collect tear samples.

The tear sample collection is non-invasive and pain free, according to Ascendant senior scientist Anna Daily.

"It’s a simple eye wash, a tear sample," she said in a Thursday news release. "Lots of women don’t want to participate in mammograms because they can be painful. The pressure used in a mammogram is equivalent to a 40-pound car battery."

Ascendant officials believe their method can persuade women to get screened earlier and more often.

The MelodyDX test can be administered in a doctor's office or clinic. Currently, Ascendant is conducting clinical tests using the method in five clinics across the country including two in northwest Arkansas: The Breast Center and Highland Oncology Clinic.

Daily said the test also could make breast cancer screenings possible in more than two dozen Arkansas counties where mammography isn't available.

ASTA officials said if Ascendant continues to make progress, the company could receive another $100,000 in early-stage funding.

In addition to its relationship with ASTA, Ascendant is an Innovate Arkansas client firm and a VIC Technology Venture Development portfolio company.



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