Monthly Archives: December 2011

Phthisis Diagnostics Wins Over $500,000 in Virginia Grant Awards

Charlottesville-based Phthisis Diagnostics, Inc. has been awarded over half a million dollars in a combination of grants from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Phthisis will receive a Commercialization Program grant of $499,477 and a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Matching Funds award for $49,400 (total of $548,877) through the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF).

On Wednesday, Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced that the company was one of 22 Virginia organizations to receive a total of over $3.6 million in funding for a variety of projects to support innovation and business growth in the state.  The bid solicitation generated more than 90 eligible proposals for over $21 million in requested funding spanning a range of industries identified as priority areas for the Commonwealth.  Phthisis Diagnostics received one of only four grants awarded in the Commercialization Program.  Two other Charlottesville-based companies, Hemoshear, LLC and Retivue, LLC, also received Commercialization Program awards.  According to Crystal Icenhour, PhD, President and Chief Science Officer of Phthisis Diagnostics, “This funding will support development and launch of two molecular diagnostic kits that will fulfill a critical need for better diagnosis of intestinal parasites.  We are honored to receive this commercialization support from the Commonwealth of Virginia.”  Phthisis sought the grant   funding to facilitate itsCommercialization of Cryptosporidium/Giardia Molecular Diagnostic. Companies developing new technology often find it somewhat easier to secure research funding than to develop the resources that will enable them to bring their product to market.  Commercialization grants fill an important gap, especially for small, innovative firms.

Infectious disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death worldwide.  Quickly identifying and targeting the disease with appropriate intervention can save lives and healthcare costs on a massive scale.  Molecular diagnostic technology is a quicker and more accurate method for identifying the pathogen responsible for a patient’s illness.

About Phthisis Diagnostics

Phthisis Diagnostics, founded in 2005, is a rapidly growing biotechnology company developing the Simply Molecular® product catalog, a range of innovative molecular diagnostic products designed for speed, accuracy, and ease of use.  The SimplyMolecular® catalog offers solutions for DNA Extraction, Molecular Diagnostics, and Laboratory Quality Control.

The company launched its first product in May 2011 with the E-Sphere™ Stool DNA Extraction Kit.  Such an extraction process from a specimen must be done before any diagnostic process can proceed.  Laboratories have expressed their need for a faster, simpler method to purify genomic DNA from human stool samples prior to their full analysis to determine the exact disease causing a patient’s symptoms.  Faster speed not only allows the lab to achieve greater efficiency in processing samples, but it also plays an important role in getting effective treatment started as quickly as possible.  Faster, effective treatment of infections can be life saving, especially when the patient is an infant or elderly patient.

The E-Sphere™ Stool DNA Extraction Kit answers the market need for speed with the added benefits of accuracy, greater cost effectiveness, reduced risk of sample contamination, and improved safety for lab technicians.  The process requires only standard clinical laboratory equipment.

For more information about Phthisis Diagnostics, please visit


About Crystal Icenhour, PhD

In 2006, Crystal Icenhour, PhD, became President and Chief Science Officer for Phthisis Diagnostics, located in Charlottesville, VA.  She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases in their
Department of Medicine.  She has demonstrated business leadership in addition to her scientific capabilities and has expressed a goal of “bridging the translational gap between these two worlds.”

Dr. Icenhour has authored seven patents, has authored and co-authored 14 research articles, and has been a prolific speaker and presenter at scientific conferences.  She has served on review panels for the National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.  Dr. Icenhour currently serves on the board of the Virginia Biotechnology Association and on the editorial board for the Journal of Microbiological Methods. She is a member of the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, Sigma Xi, Medical Mycology Society of the Americas, National Postdoctoral Association, and the American Society for Microbiology.

About Molecular Diagnostics

Innovations in molecular diagnostics have increased with the growth in understanding of the human genome and how DNA and RNA function at the molecular level. As understanding has increased, so has the demand for the development of molecular
diagnostic methods for improving sensitivity and speed. With increased demand by hospitals and clinical laboratories for molecular diagnostics to improve diagnosis, innovations have led to new products and kits that increase the reliability and speed. The ultimate goal is fast and accurate diagnosis to improve patient outcomes.

Hospitals and diagnostic laboratories are turning to molecular diagnostic methods to guarantee the highest levels of reliability and the greatest speed. Reliability is essential, because an inaccurate or missed diagnosis can be a matter of life and death. Another issue driving the need for new molecular diagnostics is the ability of microorganisms to evade and even inactivate potent antibiotics, causing health care providers to be faced with substantial infectious disease challenges. The varieties of technologies used in molecular diagnostics have transformed clinical laboratory medicine. Market analysts are predicting a 15% increase in the molecular diagnostic market over the next several years.

About the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF)

The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) advances science- and technology-based research, development, and commercialization to drive economic growth in Virginia and to encourage collaboration among its institutions of higher education and partnerships between these colleges and universities and business and industry.  The General Assembly appropriated $6 million to the Fund for FY2012, with $2 million designated for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) matching program.  Underlying the overall program is the strategy to enhance economic development through technology research and commercialization to successfully bring new ideas to the marketplace.