Cellanyx, Co-founded by GSAS Grad Ashok Chander, Develops New Method to Culture Primary Prostate Cells

BEVERLY, Mass. – Things are looking bright for tiny startup biotech Cellanyx as the company has made headway on revolutionizing precision diagnostic test for prostate cancer.

Company researchers have developed a method to keep prostate biopsy cells alive outside of the body long enough to analyze them for diagnostic testing. Cellanyx Chief Executive Officer Ashok Chander told BioSpace in an exclusive interview that the technology allowing the process was something he began working on in 2009 while pursuing his Ph.D., but it now has the potential to be an industry-wide game changer when it comes to blockbuster diagnostics.

“It was born from a very simple question,” Chander said, “why are all the diagnostics being done with dead cells, when all the research has been done with live cells?”

After conducting experiments, Chander said he uncovered a protein formulation that enables primary biopsy cells to be kept alive and then cultured to use cutting-edge microscopy to interrogate those cells. Current methods for culturing prostate cells rely on “immortalized cell lines” that are grown in a serum. Over time, he said, those cells undergo mutations that may render them “un-representative of prostate tissue in vivo.” Chander said cells in cancer tumors look different from patient to patient and even tumor to tumor. He added that cells within the same tumor can also be very different, which is one reason the disease is such a complex problem to solve.

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