Published May 7, 2015 in IBD News.

The University of Maryland (UM) Ventures has established an agreement with Biomecite Diagnostics, LLM, giving the company the exclusive option for the rights to developing novel methods for diagnosing inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) from the University of Maryland in Baltimore (UMB). The licensed technology was created by Florian Fricke and James White and is expected to improve detection of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease.

The detection technology was developed while the two investigators were working at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS). The technology works by exploring the distinct genomic variances in the bacteria or microbiome that are present in the gut in order to improve accuracy in diagnosing gastrointestinal conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, according to a press release from the company.

“Biomecite Diagnostics is a particularly exciting UMB startup,” stated the chief commercialization officer at UM Ventures, Phil Robilotto. “Its next-generation, microbiome-based technology for diagnosing inflammatory bowel diseases has the potential to provide a non-invasive and more cost effective alternative to currently used diagnostic procedures.”

“Biomecite has built a very strong scientific and management team with a well-established track record, and has already made significant progress on the development of relationships with several key partners to enable technology commercialization,” added Robilotto, noting that the company that is being supported by the independent organization Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) from TEDCO (Technology Development Corporation), which is dedicated to providing entrepreneurial business assistance and funding for the development of startup companies in Maryland.

The technology is particularly anticipated since the currently available diagnosis methods to detect IBD and other gastrointestinal conditions are still challenging, given the fact that the data and symptoms need to be subjectively interpreted by healthcare professionals. In addition, the procedures being used, including endoscopies and colonoscopies, are invasive for the patient, unlike UMB technology.

The novel method is based on genetic analysis, which is collected straight from the stool samples of patients, being framed in the field of microbiome diagnosis methods, which is widely expanding through the development of DNA-sequencing technologies. Despite the fact that the diagnostic tool is only effective with IBD, the researchers believe that in the near future it will also be used to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).