NASA spin-off signals faster medical breakthroughs

Researchers aim to use advanced signal-processing technology first developed by NASA to supercharge the performance of biological sensors. California-based company Vialogy, which was set up to commercialise the technology, claimed it could cut the cost and speed up the rate of pharmaceutical development.

Eventually it hopes the technology platform, called Quantum Resonance Interferometry (QRI), will hasten medical breakthroughs by enabling the detection of biological and chemical events currently hidden amid interference or below analytical instruments’ threshold. These could include the identification of rare gene or protein targets.

According to Vialogy, QRI allows instruments to detect signals up to 10,000 times lower than the surrounding signals from which they need to be distinguished, through a complex process of analysis and amplification. It claims that this can significantly improve the detection and validation of biological samples, a major headache in drug companies’ R&D processes.

Vialogy plans to apply its QRI systems to a range of life-science instrumentation, including DNA micro-arrays, protein chips and biosensors. It said the signal-processing system is compatible with, and can act as a performance-booster for, current instruments.

The company also hopes to apply QRI to seismology, defence and general remote sensing applications.

Vialogy is a subsidiary of ViaSpace, the company formed to commercialise technologies developed in the NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and has several senior NASA researchers and engineers among its team. BioProjects International, a UK investor in biotechnology ventures, recently spent $1.75m (£1m) to take its stake in Vialogy to almost 45 per cent.

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