Swiss firm seeks partners for rapid diagnostic nano test
C00925410 - Clinica

Swiss start-up firm Spinomix is seeking partners to collaborate on its rapid diagnostic test platform, which could perform MRSA and SARS tests in under an hour - tests which currently take days to complete.

The test will be more sensitive than those currently available, due to the use of "spinning" magnetic nanoparticles in the reaction mix, said the Lausanne-based firm. It plans to apply the platform to point-of-care testing products, but it will also have applications in clinical laboratory research.

The company has just reached the "proof-of-concept" stage for the technology, and is looking for partners to help it proceed with development, Tomas Svoboda, CEO of the firm, told Clinica.

"Our technology essentially maximises the amount of reaction mix that interacts with the surface of the nanoparticles, which are tagged with a specific biomarker," explained Mr Svoboda, who is also CEO of Austrian company Pro-Med. "We can increase this surface area by a factor of up to 10,000, compared to what is on the market right now."

The prototype is a microfluidic chip that can run four tests at once, although the number of tests will increase as the firm further develops the product, possibly via multiplexing technologies, said Mr Svoboda.

Each of the four test chambers contains millions of magnetic nanoparticles that are tagged with a specific biomarker. The introduction of blood into the chamber acitvates the electronic and magnetic parts of the device.

Spinomix’s proprietary technology, called MagPhase, uses the tagged magnetic nanoparticles to "spin" the reaction mix. This stops molecules from aggregating or sinking in the mixture. It also allows the biomarkers to move around in the reaction mix so that they can more easily "capture" the antibodies that indicate disease, said Mr Svoboda.

The biomarker-antibody reaction then elicits a photometric response, which is detected and quantified.

The Lausanne-based company expects to release its first product, a central laboratory test for use in biomarker and drug research, in Europe in the first half of 2008. In this application, the firm is targeting the smaller labs "that would rather have a few small, simple, machines for running a few tests, rather than one large and costly system".

The firm hopes that releasing the product initially into the less tightly-regulated research use market, will allow it to better scope out the molecular diagnostic market potential for the product. European launch of its first in vitro diagnostic (IVD) test is planned for 2010.

The first IVD is likely to be for MRSA. Spinomix received a boost recently when it was issued with a Euro2.1m ($2.6m) grant from a Brussels seed fund company to develop a rapid test for the disease. However, Spinomix may turn its attentions to other test areas in the years running up to launch, depending on market demand.

Partners sought
At present, Spinomix plans to enter the IVD market via a strategic alliance. Depending on who the partner is, the launch date may even be brought forward, said Mr Svoboda. The right partner may also help to push the technology into the US, he added.

In addition, the company may be prepared to integrate its MagPhase technology with test platforms currently used by diagnostic firms. As with many molecular diagnostic technologies in development, MagPhase aims to bring the quality of central laboratory testing to the point-of-care arena.

"At the moment, the molecular diagnostics market is worth around $2-3bn, and is growing by about 20% each year" so we estimate a healthy market for our product, said Mr Svoboda.

Full Title: CLINICA - World Medical Technology News -