Lucigen Corp., a 15-year-old Middleton company, has been known for the research tools and cloning kits it has developed, some from enzymes harvested from the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.
Now, Lucigen has reached a mark that will let the company move into another area: making tests to diagnose certain types of illnesses.
Lucigen has received ISO 13485 certification, meaning its manufacturing facilities meet international quality standards and regulatory requirements. That clears the way for the company to create molecular diagnostic tests that will screen for certain diseases in humans and animals.
The company is not yet disclosing what the tests will look for, but based on a recent grant, they are likely to target influenza, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and other infectious diseases. “And the focus of this is to deliver a platform that is capable of being used at physicians’ offices and labs. Currently, they are only done in larger, central labs,” spokesman Curtis Knox said.
Molecular diagnostics tests detect the RNA or DNA that is specifically identified with a certain disease. They are “far more sensitive” than amino acid-based tests often used in small clinics to check for immune response to a particular bacteria or virus, Knox said.
Also, it can take days to get a reading on a molecular diagnostics test in a big clinic, but Lucigen has developed a system that can give a response in 30 minutes, he said.
The ISO certification “positions Lucigen to make a profound impact on better health by providing innovative diagnostic tests and ... solutions for medical diagnostics,” said founder and chief executive David Mead.
The company, at 2905 Parmenter St., received a $2.8 million, three-year Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2012 to pursue its latest goal.
Lucigen has 55 employees and said it plans to enter clinical trials in late 2014, and the diagnostic tests could be on the market in 2015.
Yahoo salutes Murfie
Murfie.com, the Madison-based music marketplace, is one of 19 devices, apps and other technology advances celebrated as “The Upworthiest tech” of 2013 by the Yahoo tech staff.
“Here’s something to do with all those rotting music CDs. You’ll be glad you did,” the item is titled.
Murfie stashes CDs that members send, puts them into a format that lets members play them on any device, and makes them available for sale or swap to other members.
“It’s now my favorite used record store,” wrote Yahoo’s Dan Tynan in the article, touting the mere $3 he spent to buy a copy of “Exile on Main Street,” a 1972 Rolling Stones double album.
“We had no idea this was coming,” wote Murfie co-founder Matt Younkle, in an email to the State Journal. “The Yahoo! honors came as an early holiday surprise for us.”
Murfie, 7 N. Pinckney St., was created in May 2011 by Younkle and Preston Austin. The online marketplace has more than 12,000 members and a library of more than 400,000 discs, according to the Murfie.com website.
Murfie has 12 full-time and 12 part-time employees, fewer part-timers than before but more hours for each of them, Younkle said.
He said the company is working on another funding round, which could close in late January, two years after the first big investment round of $1.4 million, finalized in January 2012.
There are also plans for “expanding the Murfie platform,” Younkle said — but details on that are yet to come.
“This piece is really a solid statement to all the hard work our support team puts into making Murfie the best and friendliest place to buy and collect music online,” Younkle said.