Nanotherics wins funding for cell alteration device

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A Staffordshire-based biological equipment developer has received a £1.1m venture capital and seed fund investment to market a product for genetically altering cells using oscillating magnetic fields and nanoparticles. 

Nanotherics received the funding from Catapult Venture Managers and Mercia Technology Seed Fund for the company’s Magnefect-nano.

The motor-driven device gives biologists a magnetic tool for introducing biomaterials into cells. This type of technique, known as transfection, is used extensively for research into genetic diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Dr Linda Cammish, chief executive of Nanotherics, said the Magnefect-nano’s oscillating magnets improve the uptake of DNA material into cells.

She explained that the DNA is attached to a magnetic nanoparticle and placed in a microwell plate, a common laboratory piece of equipment. The microwell is then placed into the Nanotherics Magnefect-nano device, with the cells ready to be altered.

According to Dr Cammish, the oscillating magnet array sits between the cells and the magnetic nanoparticle/DNA complex. The magnetic forces of the array will pull the DNA into the cell, she said, and complete transfection within 20 to 30 minutes.

Biologists can then study the different characteristics and behaviour of the modified cell.

Dr Cammish said that this will help benefit research into causes and potential cures for a range of genetic disorders, from Alzheimer’s to cancer.

Nanotherics claims its device is much faster at transfecting cells than chemical-based techniques, which can take several hours.

Dr Cammish added that the transfected cells also have improved viability over processes such as electroporation, which apply an electric current over a cell and blast holes into its wall to get the DNA inside.

The Magnefect-nano is CE certified and can be sold to research laboratories globally.