By Henry Mortimer, Editor-at-Large
Early detection of a problem or potential threat is important for success in many industries, from cybersecurity to weather forecasting. But when it comes to fighting cancer, it’s mission-critical, says Cha-Mei Tang, ScD, founder, president, and CEO of Creatv MicroTech.
“Early detection of cancer is the Holy Grail,” says Dr. Tang. “When cancer is detected early it is potentially curable, either through surgery or some form of treatment.”
Creatv MicroTech, which specializes in the field of biodetection, produces blood tests, biomarkers, and other tools to enable clinicians and others to detect cancer in its earliest form and select the best treatment for each patient and monitor treatment response.
Dr. Tang says her company’s technology is applicable to solid tumors, “including breast, prostate, colon, lung, and pancreatic,” or about 90% of all cancers.
The Potomac, Md.-based company was named as Montgomery County’s BioScience Company of the Year in 2013 for its cancer diagnostics, and received a multi-year contract from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2014 to evaluate a new cancer marker, called “circulating cancer-associated macrophage-like cells,” or CAMLs. Researchers at Creatv believe that the characteristics of CAMLs provide clues to a person’s immune response to disease.
The company also provides research and development in the sciences and engineering related to high-aspect-ratio microfabrication, including the creation of CellSieve microfilters, which are used for liquid cell biopsy for cancer diagnostics.
For Dr. Tang, who founded Creatv MicroTech in 1996 after stints at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Naval Research Lab, running a successful biotechnology firm is more than just a career move; it’s personal.
“Two of my best friends died from cancer,” she says. “So it is very important [for me] to help everybody and especially that we can do a better job than most people.”
Dr. Tang shares that spirit of generosity and collaboration with the Maryland Tech Council, which she estimates she’s been a member of for at least 15 years.
“The Maryland Tech Council is really good at helping companies” grow, through its offering of educational seminars, conferences and other resources, she says. “They also have a women’s group to help women become leaders, and I am participating in that also.”
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