Name: NeoDiagnostix

Location: Rockville

Funding: The company received a $50,000 challenge grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, $75,000 from the Montgomery County Technology Growth Program and $60,000 from private investors.

Big idea: NeoDiagnostix is developing diagnostic tests for cervical and oral cancer. The tests use a technology called fluorescence in situ hybridization, using fluorescently labeled probes to detect abnormalities on a specific chromosome. "The probe looks for how many copies of Chromosome 3 you have," said Gregory A. Endress, president and chief executive. "If I get two copies, that's good, that's normal. Any more than two is abnormal." Endress said the company may seek to develop tests for lung or prostate cancer in the future.

How it works: The cervical cancer test is conducted on samples from a Pap smear, Endress said. "If a woman had an abnormal Pap test, or ambiguous test, where some abnormal cells are present, but not enough to say it's pre-cancerous, the physician could order our test, and we would receive those samples and run it on the same sample."

Where the idea was hatched: NeoDiagnostix's products are based on research done at the National Cancer Institute and other public institutions, Endress said.

Customers: None yet. Endress said the cervical cancer product will be available next month and the oral cancer product will be available in the third quarter of 2006.

Price: Similar tests for other cancers are typically priced around $400, Endress said. He expects his company's tests will be priced in the same range.

Founded: January 2005.

Who's in charge: Endress; Bradley G. Lorimier, chairman; and Madhvi Upender, research director.

Employees: Five.

Web site: www.neodiagnostix.com

Partners: The company is working with the University of Maryland Dental School on the oral cancer product.

What the name means: "We liked it because 'neo' both means new and 'neoplasm' is one of those technical terms we would use," Endress said. "It's pretty clear what we do."

-- Andrea Caumont

NeoDiagnostix chief executive Gregory A. Endress wants to develop more conclusive tests of chromosome abnormalities.