The prototype device is able to perform multiple different complex immunoassays — normally only possible by a trained technician in the lab — by nurses or general practitioners.
‘We’re trying to decentralise some of that testing out into the community,’ Diarmuid Flavin, Biosensia’s chief executive, told The Engineer.
Although there are similar diagnostic devices in development, RapiPlex uses a novel two-element design. First, an injection-moulded fluidic cartridge with multiple channels for different biomarkers is loaded with patient samples, whether blood, urine or saliva. The cartridge is then placed in a bench-top cradle that uses fluorescence excitation and detection to get a read-out.
‘The instrument is universal. We designed that flexibility into the system because a doctor’s office really just wants one box — one instrument on which you can do all assays of different varieties across different panels,’ Flavin said.
Crucially, the cartridge can be adapted to any particular suite of biomarkers up to a maximum of 12 and is then thrown away after use.
‘One of the key aspects of clinical testing is to avoid any issue to do with mix-up of patient samples. You can use [the cartridge] once, then it’s discarded and, of course, there’s the biohazard aspect of it too in terms of the need to be able to dispose of the unit safely and effectively,’ Flavin said.
The RapiPlex platform provides a simple numerical read-out that can be interpreted by skilled and semi-skilled clinical staff.
Biosensia is currently working with companies that manufacture biomarkers to develop tests and the first product it will release will be a cardiac one.
The initial funding round of €1.2m (£1.03m) was led by ACT Venture Capital, through its AIB Start-up Accelerator Fund, and included existing investors Seroba BioVentures and Atlantic Bridge.