The University of Michigan’s student-led Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund has invested in Phasiq, a U-M spinout startup working on a cheaper, faster, more accurate way to test multiple health-indicator proteins in a single patient sample. The startup is particularly focused on research and diagnostic tests related to cancer and other diseases affecting the immune and cardiovascular systems.
Francis Glorie, Phasiq’s CEO, says the fund contributed $36,000 to a pre-seed round in which it was the only institutional investor participating.
Phasiq’s patented technology was first developed at the university before the company was officially established in 2012. The six-person team has survived so far by bootstrapping and through SBIR grants.
Glorie says Phasiq’s technology gives researchers and clinicians a way to identify multiple proteins in one sample of blood or tissue, giving them a better overall picture of the patient’s health and conserving sample material, which is often minute.
In contrast, Glorie points to the notoriously unreliable prostate-specific antigen test, used to screen patients for prostate cancer. “If, instead of a single protein, you could test multiple proteins, you’d get a much better idea of whether it’s serious or not,” he says.
Glorie says Phasiq ultimately hopes to partner with a big research customer—a commercial lab chain, for instance—or a pharmaceutical company to commercialize its products. The company has also begun to discuss licensing options with interested parties.
“We’re small, and we don’t have a lot of money, so it would be good to get the support of a larger company,” he adds.
The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund targets early-stage startups centered around ideas or technology developed at the University of Michigan.