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Caldera founder Jim Watson dies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/02/2017 Jonathan Underhill

Jim Watson, whose personal battle with prostate cancer led him to co-found Caldera Health, has succumbed to the disease but investors are showing confidence in the company's gene testing technology by converting options into shares.

Mr Watson, who had been a scientific and management adviser up until the end of 2016, died on February 13, Caldera's chief executive Rob Mitchell has confirmed. Mr Watson co-founded the company with Richard Forster, who had also been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died in January 2014.

The pair said they had been victims to flaws in the industry standard PSA test for the cancer, which throws up both false positives and negatives, and doesn't distinguish between aggressive cancers and benign strains.

Mr Watson, a pioneer of biotechnology in New Zealand, and Mr Forster performed the initial RNA biomarker selection and designed the process that led to Caledra's diagnostic gene signature.

The company's clinical study 2B, completed in December, showed that of 252 tissue samples tested using the technology, the overall sensitivity was 97 per cent and the specificity was also 97 per cent for the diagnosis of prostate cancer, Mr Mitchell said. That compares with sensitivity of 44 per cent and specificity of 92 per cent for the PSA test.

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