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Novato lands new medical technology company

NOVATO - Pap tests are sought by 60 million women in the United States each year to screen for cervical cancer. Now, Diamics Inc., a year-old startup, has taken space in Hamilton Landing, where its founders hope to develop screening products that could eventually improve upon traditional Pap tests.

Before beginning the clinical trials necessary for FDA approval in this country, Diamics hopes to obtain some traction and revenues by marketing two of its products -- a cell collection device and transport fluid -- in countries where Pap tests are not available to the general female population.

"In South America, China, and India, there's a strong health care infrastructure, but not enough cytologists to screen results," says Diamics chief scientist Warren Maltzman, PhD, whose background is in molecular oncology.

"Our products bring the cost of the process down, broadening the opportunity for more than just the wealthy women in developing countries that now have access to screening."

Diamics is in talks with potential partners in China, who will arrange for approval by Chinese authorities. Diamics could begin marketing there as early as the third quarter of this year, according to Dr. Maltzman.

In the U.S., the FDA will require proof of the effectiveness of the test, which will be initially used as an adjunct to Pap tests. Diamics won't seek approval until a third product, a cervical mapping technology, has completed development.

"Currently, cells are randomized after removal for screening. If abnormal cells are found, a second more complex and expensive test is necessary to localize the potential precancerous condition," says Dr. Maltzman. "Our technology allows the cells to remain in their original orientation during transfer and also indicates their position in the cervix.

"We've developed biomarkers that allow physicians to detect pretumors easily and quickly, screening out a large number of women for whom subsequent testing would be unnecessary. To our knowledge, no other company is addressing this bridge between cytology and histology with our approach and strategy," says Dr. Maltzman.

He believes physicians and insurers will be quick to adapt the Diamics technology, once it has passed clinical trials. That could happen by the end of 2006, according to founder Peter Gombrich, who has speculated that the company could be earning revenues of $30 million-$50 million within three years.

Meanwhile, Diamics is looking for about $2 million in private investment to take it to profitability.

The seven-employee company has signed a six-year lease on about 8,500sf in Hamilton Landing in a deal brokered by Orion Partners. Another biotech startup, Cytograft, is also located at the development.

"We love it here," says Dr. Maltzman, "The location is beautiful. The facility was up on time and under budget."

For more information, call 415-883-0414 or visit www.diamics.com.

Adapted from North Bay Business Journal, 5464 Skylane Blvd., Suite B - Santa Rosa, CA 95403 Phone: 707-579-2900 - Fax: 707-579-0188


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