Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — Exogen Biotechnology, Inc., the latest startup company to spin off from technology developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, surpassed their fundraising goal of $50,000 within the first weeks of their citizen science campaign launch. With over 300 contributors from the US, they are now expanding their campaign to the world to look at differences across countries and cultures.
Exogen co-founder Jon Tang, Ph.D. says, “we are measuring the most dangerous type of DNA damage, known as DNA double-strand breaks where both strands of the DNA double helix are severed. Surprisingly, DNA double-strand breaks are very common and can result from your lifestyle choices, exposure to environmental toxins, and personal genetics.” Every single one of the 70 trillion cells in your body experiences about one to ten DNA double-strand breaks per day. If this damage is repaired improperly or left unrepaired, it can lead to many health problems.
Scientific studies have correlated DNA double-strand breaks with some cancers, accelerated aging, neurodegenerative disorders, and many other serious medical conditions. Exogen expects that their technology will one day provide valuable health information to the public for the detection and prevention of some of these diseases. With this campaign, Exogen supporters gain early informational access to this technology that is not yet available to the general public. Contributors are asked to provide information about their age, geography, lifestyle, environment and medical history. This information will allow Exogen to determine which diseases and factors have the strongest association with DNA damage.
Exogen is now expanding their campaign internationally after seeing strong support within the US. “It would be interesting to see if there is a bias for more DNA damage in individuals with the same age, gender and ethnicity, but living in different countries. By using the same technology to measure both cohorts, we expect to have fascinating data that can improve the public health”, says Exogen co-founder Sylvain Costes, Ph.D.
The campaign has recently attracted national interest within France, as Costes is a French/American scientist who has been working on launching an Exogen branch in France. Exogen was one of ten startups that was invited to present their technology to French President Hollande during his visit to San Francisco on February 12, 2014. Exogen’s aims are in line with many of the strategic goals of President Hollande’s Innovation 2030 Commission, such as big data, personalized medicine, and innovation in the service of longevity and aging. President Hollande was given the opportunity to see Exogen’s technology first-hand.
Monitoring exposure to ionizing radiation is one future application that Exogen is actively working on. For example: “We think measuring DNA damage before and right after getting medical imaging, as a standard practice for CT scans, would help hospitals identify if patients are accidentally overexposed to ionizing radiation. Similarly, our kit could be easily deployed in areas hit by environmental disasters, such as Fukushima, to identify people who may need immediate medical attention due to severe DNA damage,” says Costes.
To view Exogen's DNA health monitoring campaign, please visit: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/exogen-bio-how-damaged-is-your-dna
About Exogen Biotechnology Exogen Biotechnology is a health startup aimed at developing cutting-edge technologies for individuals to monitor damage to their DNA and to assess their DNA repair capacities for the purposes of personalized and preventive health care.
To learn more about Exogen Biotechnology, visit their website at http://www.exogenbio.com.