ImmunArray developing tests for lupus, brain injuries
ImmunArray, a molecular diagnostic company operating in Richmond and Rehovot, Israel, is making a name for itself in detecting disease and brain injury.
In October the company rolled out a blood test for systemic lupus erythematosus (known as SLE or lupus), a disease in which the human immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks tissues. Lupus affects 1.5 million Americans, mostly women between the ages of 18 and 60. Author Flannery O’Connor died of lupus in 1964 at the age of 39.
ImmunArray’s SLE-key Rule-Out Test provides a way to determine whether a patient has lupus. “This is the first test to definitively rule out lupus on the market. It has been extremely well received,” says Donna Edmonds, the company’s CEO and chairman of the board. “We already have about 17 customers that are now ordering regularly. We have a rapidly growing base.”
Rheumatologists have been looking for a test that would clearly say, “You don’t have lupus,” Edmonds adds. “That is what we developed.”
The company is beginning to talk with large health systems about the test, which can eliminate the need for a battery of tests. “It saves overall doctor visits and it streamlines diagnostic and therapeutic costs,” Edmonds says. “It has a positive impact on health-care costs.”
ImmunArray, established in Israel in 2006, relocated its research laboratory to Richmond last July. Virginia Life Science Investments, founded by Edmonds, invested in ImmunArray in 2008. “We have been growing, building and investing in the company since then,” Edmonds says, noting that over 70 percent of ImmunArray’s shareholders are U.S. based.
The company also is making news with technology that can aid in the early detection and diagnosis of blood-based biomarkers released as a result of acute brain injury.
ImmunArray was awarded a $300,000 grant from General Electric and the NFL for research to develop a simple, convenient test. The test would be used at the location where an injury occurs to provide quick diagnostic results to those treating athletes or military personnel for brain injuries.
The grant supports research at ImmunArray’s VERACIS service and development laboratory in Richmond. The company also is collaborating with a Fortune 500 company on research and development.
“The goal is to both detect if you have a brain injury or if you need a CT scan,” Edmonds says. “Also, looking at the prognosis post injury. We will develop a test that will give you clearance as to when and whether you can return to work or play.”