Nanomed and MEMS foundry Rogue Valley Microdevices are producing commercial biosensors from graphene on 6-inch silicon wafers for a unique drug development platform. The electrical conductivity, high surface area, and unique biocompatibility of graphene enable a wider detection range and compatibility with more complex samples than currently available technologies. Organizations including the CDC, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Merck are using the tool in their research. Nanomed aims to introduce a high-throughput version next year.
Typically undertaken in a laboratory, this process relies heavily on automated procedures to verify and then return results to the end user. Laboratories use advanced informatics systems that link multiple computer terminals with different end users, central servers, physical autoanalyser instruments, and other devices – making the process both costly and complex. Nanomed has come up with a Field Effect Biosensing (FEB) technology that provides real-time, label-free kinetic binding and affinity data.
Carbon electronics have been around since before Thomas Edison built his first commercial lightbulb using carbonized bamboo filaments. More recently, we’ve made a lot of progress developing advanced carbon electronic materials, from carbon nanotubes to graphene, but we haven’t had the same product development success that Edison did. As experts in new materials, we have tools for producing new products that other people don’t have. This can be an advantage in almost any market. Success requires a deep understanding of both your material and your target market.
Nanomed has created an innovative solution to provide real-time kinetic characterization with a device that is barely larger than a cell phone. Agile is a benchtop label-free assay built with proprietary Field Effect Biosensing (FEB) technology that enables detection even with small amounts of starting material, low concentrations, and weak biomolecular interactions.
Bundy cofounded the company with CTO Brett Goldsmith in 2013. The pair of Poway High School graduates wanted to figure out a way to leverage graphene’s unique properties for commercial applications. Lifting a pachyderm was not among their aspirations. Goldsmith, who studied physics at UC San Diego, had just coauthored an academic paper demonstrating that a graphene-based biosensor could be used to detect a protein associated with Lyme disease. Because existing diagnostic tests for Lyme measure a patient’s antibody response to the infection, and not the infection itself, the results of the study attracted significant interest from the medical community. The findings also prompted the San Diego natives to start their company. A graduate of the EvoNexus incubator, Nanomed has raised roughly $3.7 million through a Series A financing round and multiple bridge rounds.
Their first product, the Agile bioassay device, enables researchers to directly detect molecules with no lower size limit using a gadget the size of a TV remote.
The company’s CEO, Ross Bundy, was kind enough to explain the company’s technology and business to us.
Agile is used in drug discovery and life science research, to evaluate what is known as kinetics – or “activity assay”, which tells how quickly a drug molecule binds to its target at different concentrations – and how easily it falls off. This helps researchers evaluate different drug candidates to find the best ones to move forward with.
Most tools on the market are optical tools – based on lasers and optical sensors and are large tools that cost a lot of money and require expert operators and may not quite fit smaller molecules. Nanomed’s solution is an all-electronic, chip-based alternative. The basis of the system is the company’s Field Effect Biosensing chip, or FEB.
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