New technology will make immunoassays faster, easier and cheaper
Scientists, in collaboration with industrial developers, have developed a technology that can prepare a fully synthetic polymer and significantly simplify and reduce the cost of performing analyses to detect the presence of a pathogen or specific antibody in the body. The newly licensed technology was developed in collaboration between the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry CAS, Elisa Development, the bio-innovation centre i&i Prague and Sophomer, a start-up of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry CAS (IMC).
A team of scientists at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry began developing the technology that led to the establishment of Sophomer about two years ago. "I am very pleased that we have managed to bring our joint efforts to the successful signing of a licensing agreement. We have thus taken an important step towards ensuring that the quality work of our scientists finds its application in real life. This builds on our previous successful transfers of basic research results into practice. I believe that this technology from the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry will significantly simplify the performance of immunoassays," says Jiří Kotek, Director of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS.
Sophomer's technology will find application wherever immunoassays is a basic working tool. It has the potential to greatly assist in biochemical laboratories, in the development of In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) devices, in the monitoring of environmental contaminations, in food laboratories for the determination of allergen content, or in immunoassays in veterinary laboratories. "Our ambitions continue to grow as our research progresses, but the main idea remains the same: to make the work of our fellow developers and researchers faster, easier and to a large extent cheaper. We want them to be able to focus without distraction on their own ideas and the challenges that their demanding, extremely important and at the same time low-visibility work brings to the public," adds Martin Burkhard, CEO of Sophomer.
BSA is one of the oldest industrially derived proteins. In immunoassays, it is primarily used as a blocker, which makes the measurements more accurate by suppressing unwanted signals. It is derived from bovine serum, which poses a number of problems. These include the risk of pathogen transmission, which means that this material must be tested rigorously and expensively and its use is subject to certification to confirm its safety.
"Logically, there is no such risk with our technology, as our product is fully synthetic. This eliminates other problems, whether it is the variability in reproduction of production, the relatively high price, which increases with the requirement for higher purity, or the complex disposal of the material. The ethical aspect of the whole matter is also not negligible," says Jan Plicka of Elisa Development and a leading expert in the development of diagnostic devices.
A great example of technology transfer
The creation of the start-up Sophomer is a prime example of technology transfer and the linking of science and industry. "At the beginning of the story there was a need for diagnostic test manufacturers, which we were able to identify thanks to our network of contacts. We then searched academia for a technology suitable to address this need. We found a suitable technology at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry, and after successful validation tests we assembled a joint development team," says Jiří Moos from the i&i Prague Bio-Innovation Center, which has been behind the project from the very beginning. Among other things, i&i Prague also participated in the creation of a startup that has been included in the portfolio of this bio-innovation center. "We are currently helping to find customers for the developed polymer Sophomer F10, while continuing to co-develop other products. We are also well on our way to arranging the first investment that will help kick-start the company's activities," adds Jiří Moos.