Aureon Biosciences Corp. CEO Jon Edelson is banking on his company finding an integrated clinical view of disease through diagnostic tests for cancer - tests that may be able to tell a patient if he or she is going to die and when, or what the most beneficial course of treatment might be.
The Yonkers, N.Y.-based company also raised $15 million late last year, which it announced this week, with investments from The Sprout Group, of Menlo Park, Calif., and New York, and Atlas Venture, of Boston.
"There are two ways of looking at it," Edelson told BioWorld Today in explaining, as a co-founder, the reasons for starting the company. "One way is looking at it from a patient's perspective. Say you were diagnosed, the first think you think about is, Is this going to kill me and, if so, when?'"
Now, he said physicians don't have good answers for patients as to their life expectancy.
"What we hope to do is to provide the tools and technologies to allow them to answer those questions," Edelson said.
Another way to look at the reasons for launching the company is to look at it from a genomics revolution point of view, he said, where large pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies have dominated the scene.
"If you look at the other side, there are few diagnostic companies in comparison focused on the application of the revolution that we've seen in the biosciences world," Edelson said.
Aureon is focused on integrating "a clinical view of the patient with a microanatomic view." That view begins with the patient, and then drilling down to the next level, or the tissue level, and requires drilling down beyond that to the molecular level.
"The molecular causes the tissue lesions that cause the disease that the doctor treats," Edelson said. "Today, the efforts are disintegrated; doctors are looking at the patient from each of those perspectives, but not all three together. Our technology platform is basically providing that integrated view for the prediction of clinical outcomes."
For the time being, the company is working on its technology platform and applying it to study clinical outcomes in patient cohorts. Initially, Aureon is focusing on cancer, specifically breast and prostate cancer.
One thing the company knows is that there are several subgroups within any group of patients that have either of those diseases, he said.
"The near-term goal is to get the initial results both in terms of the systems pathology platform we've created and the results from actually looking at patients and their tissue specimens," he said.
From a business perspective, the company plans to develop tests that can be used by physicians to help advise their patients. Edelson thinks that pharmaceutical companies may also be interested in what they've learned in terms of a different way of understanding tissue by understanding the molecular level.
Edelson also said that one of the special aspects of the company is that it has brought together leading scientists with interesting technology. They include scientific founders Jose Costa, deputy director of the Yale Cancer Center and vice chairman of pathology at the Yale School of Medicine; Carlos Cordon-Cardo, director of molecular pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and previously co-founder of Impath Inc., of New York; and Robert Singer, chairman of anatomy and structural biology and director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.