AGT’s founder and CEO, Dr. Eugenia Wang, founded the company in December, 2005 as part of her commitment to move bench discoveries to bedside application and eventually to market commercialization. Since April, 2010, Dr. Wang has been leading the research and development of AGT on entrepreneurial leave arranged with the University of Louisville, allowing her to devote 51% of her time and effort to the company, while still holding the Gheens Endowed Chair in Aging at the University of Louisville with the other 49%. Through this effort, AGT has quickly expanded to 10 employees, with two small business innovation research (SBIR) grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Kentucky State Technology Corporation, a non-profit organization of the State of Kentucky. Among all the long-term career discoveries of Dr. Wang, blood-based diagnostics emerge as the most promising area of commercial development for two diseases of the elderly, Alzheimer’s disease and ovarian carcinoma.
Alzheimer disease diagnostic AGT’s research development in Alzheimer’s disease is the fruit of her suggestion that Alzheimer’s disease may be manifested in systemic fashion through genomic profiles of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and serum/plasma, as a ‘window’ to reveal a central nervous system disorder. Through long-term collaboration with two AD researchers, Drs. Howard Chertkow (a neuropsychologist in AD) and Hyman Schipper (a neurologist in Parkinson and Alzheimer disease), and working with the clinical population at the well-established Memory Clinic at McGill/Jewish General Hospital, work in this direction has resulted in many publications, and placed AGT in a uniquely competitive niche for obtaining eventual FDA approval for a blood microRNA-based AD diagnostic and prognostic kit.
Metastatic ovarian carcinoma diagnostic: AGT is currently seeking funding support to develop clinical application of a blood-based diagnostic for ovarian carinoma, specifically silent and asymptomatic metastatic ova-ca. AGT’s embarking in this direction is due to a unique, serendipitous opportunity emerging recently from Dr. Wang’s long-term work on the adult form of protein translational factor, eEF1A-2, cloned and characterized by her laboratory in the early 1990s as a specific factor exclusively present in neurons, cardiomyocytes, and myotubes to support protein synthesis as well as long-term survivability. Since early 2000, work in several laboratories has discovered this gene first in ovarian cancer tissues, and later in many other tumor tissues. Specifically, its presence is found in cancer cells with aggressive metastatic behavior. Thus, this presents a strong opportunity to apply Dr. Wang’s long-term knowledge of eEF1A-2 biology to develop a diagnostic test based on the candidate microRNAs associated with the re-activation of this gene in metastatic tumors, along with microRNAs identified as key to the epithelial-mesenchyma transition (EMT) and cancer stemness, two key features essential to cancer metastasis.