Cancer research made local

Holly Leske


Brookings just became a little more important.

The California-based biomedical research facility, Chronix Biomedical, is opening a sequencing laboratory that will cater to both academic and pharmaceutical researchers in the Brookings area.

This new facility joins Chronix Biomedical’s headquarters in California and one other research facility in Germany and will continue their work on “pioneering a unique approach to the detection of personal biomarkers for monitoring and management of a broad range of cancers, neurologic disease and other medical conditions.”

The new facility will be located in Brookings Bio Space, just past the Swiftel Center on 32nd Avenue.

“Chronix [can] identify disease-specific genetic fingerprints based on trace amounts of DNA that is released into the bloodstream by damaged and dying cells associated with specific diseases,” said Chronix Biomedical’s description on the South Dakota Biotech Association’s website.

Their high-level research led to Chronix Biomedical being credited with the development of an early detection test for mad cow disease. With the new facility in Brookings, the company will now expand its research focus to other detection methods for cancer, neurological and immune disorders. Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Type I Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Huntington’s disease will be among the diseases researched.

Early detection for these types of diseases can result in a better treatment plan for patients, as well making them less costly to treat for both the government and health care companies.

Chronix Biomedical will also continue its research in fields including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, brain injuries and concussions, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

“This is terrific news for our bio industry in South Dakota and those who will take advantage of its services,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard in a written press release. “It is one more testimony that South Dakota offers growing, emerging companies what they need – both in terms of business climate and workforce.”

First Bank & Trust of Brookings and the Area Development Corporation of Brookings both helped with the funding or facilitation of the move.

Chronix Biomedical was attracted to Brookings through a long relationship with the veterinary program at SDSU, even offering employment positions to people within SDSU’s Veterinary Science Department. Alan Young, a professor at SDSU specializing in prion diseases such as mad cow and chronic wasting disease, which affects deer, moose and elk, helped facilitate the company opening here.

Chronix Biomedical contacted Young when they found out about his expertise and their working relationship began with Young as a consultant. His relationship with Chronix Biomedical has grown from its first stages of focusing on Young’s expertise, to include the professor helping them conduct their cancer research as well. Young believes other professors and academic researchers can have the same experience as he did.

“They have an interesting model system that has the potential to open up new areas of research,” Young said. “They’re going to be a good partner for academic researchers.”

According to Young, students will have the opportunity to gain valuable research experience through Chronix Biomedical’s internships for both graduate and undergraduate students. As the new facility becomes more rooted, more information on jobs for community members, availability for academic research and the opportunity for internships will become available.