ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Serial entrepreneur Michael J. Cumbo launched his first crowdfunding campaign in May to accelerate development of new technology his company, Eta Diagnostics Inc., is building to rapidly detect cancer cells in blood.
The company, which launched in 2013 and closed on a $300,000 seed round of funding last December, is commercializing new technology from the University of New Mexico to immensely speed the analysis of tissue samples in cytometers, or cell meters, which are commonly used for medical diagnostics in laboratories and clinics.
The company is building a commercial prototype of the machine for use in clinical research, but its long-term goal is to upgrade the technology to rapidly measure tumor cells in patients’ bloodstreams. That would improve treatment and possibly pave the way for a future cancer exam that could become a standard part of annual blood testing.
Under the company’s current timeline, the cancer-detection machine would be ready for human clinical trials by 2019 to achieve U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. But with some 1.6 million new cancer cases every year, Cumbo felt urgency to accelerate development, particularly after his friend and mentor — optics professor Stephen Jacobs of the University of Rochester — died from a brain tumor in May.
“I feel some sense of personal urgency, and I want to honor his memory,” Cumbo said. “The crowdfunding campaign could be a way to jumpstart development a couple of years ahead of schedule.”
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