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IU incubator attracts East Coast biotech startup

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Researchers at Eli Lilly and Co., Roche Diagnostics, IUPUI and elsewhere will be able to use high-volume chemical-screening machines recently relocated from Connecticut to Indianapolis by a startup biotechnology company.

Companion Diagnostics Inc. says its testing machines can help researchers identify key markers in patient fluids that allow more rapid detection of such diseases as cancer, diabetes and tuberculosis.

The company, which currently employs six people at the Indiana University Emerging Technology Center on West 10th Street near the Central Canal, plans to add 30 workers by 2014, paying an average annual salary of $90,000.

Because of those eye-popping numbers, the City of Indianapolis wants to give the company a tax abatement worth $290,355.

Companion Diagnostics develops computer-chip-sized diagnostic devices using high-speed chemical screening systems to evaluate the effectiveness of biological markers for disease.

One of the tools could provide a better field diagnostic test for tuberculosis, which would benefit less-developed countries where TB infection rates are high. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a potential biomarker to detect TB in urine samples, and IU could provide the patient samples for testing, including samples from its collaboration with Moi University in Kenya.

The company was founded by Richard Selinfreund, a Yale University scientist who has a background in biochemistry and physics.

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