Posted tagged ‘Stemina Biomarker Discovery’

UW Fireworks Over Sponsored Research

December 16, 2018

Here’s more in my Isthmus series on the ups and down of UW-Madison’s efforts to popularize cutting-edge research. This online-only story illustrates the campus’ hands-off policy towards participating in industry-sponsored research.

In this story I looked at an example: The Waisman Center’s pointed refusal to work with the Dane County biotech startup Stemina Biomarker Discovery in its search for a blood test to identify children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In contrast to Waisman, eight other clinical sites, including the University of California-Davis, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, agreed to conduct  Stemina’s testing.

I report that the early findings of the $8 million study are promising. Certain expressions of autism spectrum disorder could be identified by a blood test.

I write:

This holds the promise of earlier diagnoses and treatment geared to a child’s biology, [Stemina co-funder Elizabeth] Donley says. She told the tech website Xconomy Wisconsin that Stemina’s business division will begin shipping the test to “early adopter” laboratories before the end of the year.

Donley is bullish. “The CAMP study is going to change the way kids are diagnosed. It’s a big deal,” she told me.

[The Waisman Center’s Albee] Messing is not impressed. When I contacted him in August, he sent me a statement that he said represented his thinking as well as the judgment of the Waisman Center and UW Health:

“We share the goal of developing diagnostic methods that allow early identification of individuals at risk for these disorders. However, the approach advocated by Stemina Biomarker, Inc., a for-profit company that necessarily combines scientific and commercial interests, is not one that the scientists at the Waisman Center believe to be valid.”

Donley was furious.

She emailed Messing, copying the chancellor and others: “You know nothing about our approach because you never looked at it. You know nothing about our .. study because you never participated in it. You know nothing about the results or what we’ve accomplished because you’ve never seen them.”

There were more fireworks and also a retracted statement from Messing. To read more, please go here.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: