WINSTON-Amplistar, under the leadership of a new interim chief executive officer, says it is expanding preliminary clinical trials of its ovarian cancer diagnostic tool, trying to increase its potential value.

Joseph Bouckaert, will also lead the firm on a quest for additional financing, to supplement the $2.6 million in funding Amplistar landed in early 2000 from Eno River Capital of Durham, the company says.

Bouckaert comes to Amplistar from California-based agricultural biotech Vinifera, where he was president. He takes the post once held by Eric Button, who left Amplistar in February to start his own consulting firm, Bioemerge Partners.

Amplistar’s initial preliminary clinical trial of its ovarian cancer test was completed late last month. It is not known which institution conducted the test, but the company says the results were positive and would allow testing to expand from assessing only for cancers in late development to earlier stages of the disease.

The next step in Amplistar’s preliminary trials will determine how effective its unique method of diagnosing ovarian cancer is in those early stages. While the methodology will be very similar prior tests, the company says it is less common to conduct early stage trials because blood serum that is known to contain the target antibodies is difficult to obtain.

The next preliminary trial should take about two months, Amplistar says, and will start as soon as the serums can be obtained. FDA approval and getting the procedure to market if the tests prove successful could last as long as two years.

Depending on the success of the ovarian cancer trials, Amplistar says it is planning to expand the procedure’s application. A trial for colon cancer is in development, and the company says it believes the diagnostic principle could also work for other cancers.