Chest pain is a possible warning sign for a heart attack. The initial test conducted to confirm the diagnosis examines levels of a protein named Troponin but requires a waiting period of 6-9 hours during which the patient must stay under supervision in the emergency room, to ensure the protein’s levels do not continue rising, as it is secreted slowly during an attack.
A new technology, developed by Dr. Amos Danieli in Prof. Adi Arye’s lab, hopes to shorten the process by detecting a minimal amount of a material in a solution. Danieli, an electronics engineer with experience in optics, was working on his PhD when he met a relative in 2004 who was a geneticist she told him there was a problem identifying minute amounts of material in a solution, which led to the present idea.
“She actually wanted to identify the gender of a chick in the egg but the problem she described to me was what led to the platform,” he said. “In 2013, I had already founded MagBiosense in Saint Louis, where I was working to commercialize the technology. I was looking for researchers specializing in the field to help me, and everyone pointed me to Dr. Jack Ladenson from Washington University in St. Louis one of the leading clinical chemists in the world. He invented the antibodies used today to identify Troponin in the blood.”
Currently, MagBiosense has its R&D center in Missouri. The company trades through Ramot, the technology transfer arm of Tel Aviv University. The company recently won several awards, including a $50,000 prize in the Arch Grants competition in Saint Louis, Missouri; it also placed first in Washington University’s Olin Business School innovation competition and a general startup competition for city of St. Louis netting $50,000 a piece.
It further won, along with an Israeli company BDR Technologies, a grant of $900,000 from the BIRD Foundation (the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation).
“The technology I developed can identify a specific material whether a protein, a disease agent, or a virus, by training,” said Danieli. “Currently, biologists know to mark molecules with fluorescent agents that emit light. But in order to see this light, you need to shine a laser on it, and in minute amounts there is not enough light. What we have done was attack tiny magnetic particles to the fluorescent molecules, which allow us to identify the material.”
Identifying Troponin levels is only one use for the technology. Dr. Danieli intends to expand the platform’s range of operation. “We are still in the pre-clinical stage and conducting trials at Washington University, after registering the patent at Tel Aviv University. Today I am a faculty member at Bar Ilan University, where I am developing the next generation of the technology in the bio-medical group of the engineering faculty.”
MagBiosense is in the midst of a funding round of $2.5-3 million after previously raising half a million dollars.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 4, 2016
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