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Metabolon: Bloodhound of Biotech On Trail of Success



Metabolon is the bloodhound of biotech.

And the 13-year-old private Research Triangle Park company, founded on a powerful disease-sniffing technology developed at Duke University, is poised to take home a lot more bones from sales of its hot products.

This week Metabolon, a portfolio company of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, signed an exclusive multi-year marketing agreement with Bostwick Laboratories, of Uniondale, N.Y.

Bostwick’s sales force specializes in pitching cancer diagnostics to urologists treating bladder and prostate disease. And Metabolon has the hottest thing going in fast, reliable, simple, insurance-reimbursed testing for that market.

The agreement puts Metabolon in cahoots with one of the largest urology networks in the United States. Bostwick will market Prostarix, a non-invasive urine test that detects prostate cancer risk much more effectively than the long-time standard blood test targeting a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA). 

Doctors believe the Metabolon test will help avoid false readings and the mental and physical complications associated with PSA testing.

Poised for exponential growth

Metabolon President and CEO John Ryals told a crowd at NCBiotech today that his privately owned company is poised for exponential growth, using a technology called metabolomics, with a twist from Duke University ingenuity.

Ryals was speaking at the ninth annual Biosciences Forum organized by North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management and Jenkins Graduate School.

Metabolomics involves the measurement and analysis of metabolites, such as sugars and fats produced in the cells of organisms, at specific times and under specific conditions. Using tools such as spectroscopy, chromatography and specialized computer technologies, Metabolon scientists are finding new ways to see a host of important biochemical activities.

Next big product: early warning for diabetes

Ryals said that besides the Prostarix urological cancer test, Metabolon also has also launched another important product, under license to Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Richmond, Va., called Quantose IR. It’s a simple blood test that can help physicians and their patients recognize pre-diabetes early. As many as four in 10 people in the United States alone are pre-diabetic or have full-blown Type 2 diabetes, said Ryals.

He said tangible data from the test will be a big incentive for doctors and patients to intervene with diet, exercise or medication to thwart the costly, agonizing spiral of decades-long illness, amputations and death from Type 2 diabetes. “This is on its way to being a blockbuster test,” he noted, because obesity and the related diabetes complications are a major problem throughout the developed world.

“We think we’re going to grow a lot,” Ryals said. And Metabolon still has more potentially lucrative tests on its shelf than the College Board has SATs.

Graduate students in Poole College's Jenkins MBA and the MBA/Master of Microbial Biotechnology dual degree programs were also included in the Forum. They presented poster summaries of practicum projects completed with biosciences companies in the past academic year.

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