Biotech firm lands funding for cancer targeting

Fewer than half of cancer patients benefit from chemotherapy, but almost all suffer from the side effects of fatigue, hair loss, pain and low appetite.

Now, an Indianapolis biotech startup wants to improve the odds of selecting the right therapies for a specific person’s cancer, and has raised $1.7 million in early funding to help get the technology to market.

Animated Dynamics Inc. said this week it raised the money through Indianapolis-based private equity firm Caravel Ventures, with co-investments from funds managed by Elevate Ventures, Purdue Research Foundation and Vestian.

The money will be used to commercialize the company’s imaging technology, called Motility Contrast Tomography, to improve cancer treatments in cells and organelles, or tiny structures that perform specific functions within a cell.

“Similar to Doppler weather radar measuring the reflection of radio waves from clouds, our technology measures the reflection of light waves within living tissue to build a three-dimensional image showing the movement of cells and organelles in real time,” said David Nolte, physics professor at Purdue University.

Nolte is cofounder of Animated Dynamics and serves as chief scientific officer. He developed the technology at Purdue University. The technology is patented through the Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

Other cofounders are John J. Turek, a Purdue professor of basic medical sciences who serves as vice president, and Ran An, a Purdue graduate assistant who serves as chief technical officer.

The company said among the most promising applications for MCT technology is the ability to evaluate response (or non-response) of a cancer patient’s tumor to various chemotherapy agents before prescribing a cancer-treating drug.

Early pilot studies have shown that MCT offers a “very high predictive value” for response to chemotherapy within 24 hours.

Last year, the company won the “Tech Innovations of the Year” in the TechPoint Mira Awards. The judges noted that the company had completed two pre-clinical animal trials in which it predicted response to therapy with 90 percent accuracy within nine hours of administering the drugs. Clinical follow-up usually takes three to six weeks before the clinician can assess patient response.

The latest round of funding supplements more than $1 million in grants that Animated Dynamics has won from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and others.

The company is based on Decatur Boulevard near the Indianapolis International Airport.

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