UAMS, ACHRI Start-Up Receives $1.6 Million to Develop Test for Acetaminophen Liver Injury

By Nate Hinkel

Acetaminophen Toxicity Diagnostics, LLC (ATD) was awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The company has been working on development of a commercial dipstick test that can diagnose acetaminophen-induced liver injury within 20 minutes.

Excessive doses of acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol-containing products) are the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Current laboratory tests for acetaminophen overdose provide an accurate diagnosis if the overdose occurred within one to two days prior to testing. ATD’s test will be able to provide conclusive diagnosis for up to seven days following acetaminophen overdose, so a greater number of patients who develop acetaminophen liver toxicity can be appropriately treated.

“This award will allow ATD to further develop a dipstick for the detection of acetaminophen protein adducts in human blood,” said Laura James, M.D., ATD chief medical officer and professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), who founded ATD in 2006.

A Technology Development Program Grant provided by the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority, provided resources for product development with a dipstick manufacturing company. The product will initially be tested in the laboratory.

“During the final part of the grant, a small study will be performed using the dipsticks in patients with liver failure in several liver failure centers in the United States,” James said.

The company was founded in 2006 by James and UAMS faculty members Dean Roberts, Ph.D., and Jack Hinson, Ph.D. It received STTR Phase I funding from NIH in 2008 and an equipment grant from NIH in 2010.

Through STTR and its sister program, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), participating federal agencies award $2 billion annually to small businesses engaged in research and innovation leading to state-of-the-art product development. STTR funds are competitively awarded in three phases. The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Business assisted ATD with obtaining both rounds of NIH STTR funding, helping with the company’s commercialization plans and proposal development. The Arkansas Science & Technology Authority supplied a mini-grant through the Technology Transfer Assistance Grant Program to support the original STTR Phase I application.

ATD’s dipstick test can detect cases of acetaminophen liver injury better than existing tests on the market because it is specific for liver injury directly attributed to acetaminophen. In addition to providing the Technology Transfer dollars to write the proposal, the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority’s Technology Development Program grant assisted in funding the creation of the dipstick.

“Other tests on the market are not specific for acetaminophen or they only work for a short period of time following acetaminophen overdose,” James said.

Once implemented as a standard diagnostic tool for physicians, ATD’s dipstick test is projected to reduce the number of diagnostic tests required to determine the causes of liver injury in patients.

For more information about Acetaminophen Toxicity Diagnostics, contact Steve Bethel, director of operations, at (501) 364-1418.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or

Arkansas Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. The campus spans 29 city blocks and houses 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research – all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children’s health and development. ACH recently ranked No. 75 on FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit

ACHRI provides a research environment on the ACH campus to meet the needs of the UAMS faculty. Research scientists at ACHRI conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses, preventing disease and improving the health of children everywhere.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center assists innovation and technology-based Arkansas companies with business plan reviews, cutting-edge market research including geographic information system (GIS) mapping, new product development and commercialization, research and development funding, industry analysis and competitor identification, intellectual property, equity financing and specialty training. In 2007, the ASBTDC became only the fifth of the 63 small business development centers nationwide to earn special technology accreditation from the national Association of Small Business Development Centers. Through a statewide network of seven offices, the ASBTDC serves all types of small businesses. Primary areas of assistance include business planning, financing, marketing, and management. The ASBTDC, the state’s largest and most comprehensive business assistance program, is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the UALR College of Business and other institutions of higher education. Learn more at

The Arkansas Science & Technology Authority’s mission is to advance the talent and innovation necessary for Arkansas to prosper. With a vision to see Arkansas prepared to compete and prosper in the global economy, the Authority supports scientific research; technology development; business innovation; and math, science and engineering education.