Virginia company uses technology developed for bioterror in cancer detection

Published 24 February 2006

Arlington, Virginia-based start-up ChromoTrax faced a problem many high-tech entrepreneurs face: The company developed a valuable technology, and it just had to figure out a profitable application. The company first pitched its technology, which combines chromosome hybridization in suspension using repeat sequence depleted DNA probes, as a biodefense tool. The idea was to detect and gauge damage to humans caused by ‘dirty bombs’ — nuclear devices that cause little property damage but spread dangerous radiation over a large area. When the military showed little interest, the company switched tracks. ChromTrax is now developing the technology to detect precursor cancer cells.

ChromoTrax has raised “about $2.5 million” in investments from family, friends, and angel investors, including a $232,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute last year. The company was founded in 1997 as a division of American Laboratory Technologies in Arlington, Virginia. Two years later, it incorporated in Delaware and began operations under the name ALTech Biomedical, and in December 2004 changed its name to ChromoTrax. The company already sells products on a limited basis to research and clinical labs that do cytogenetics. The solution hybrid will be marketed to high-volume clinical testing labs like Qwest Diagnostic and Labcorp — also university labs that do high-volume testing, diagnostic centers in the United States and abroad.

-read more in this report; and see company Web site