Ayoxxa, a Cologne, Germany-based technology firm, plans to use €2.6 million ($3.4 million) it gained in a series A financing round last month to complete development of its in situ encoded bead-based array, or IBEA, platform to the point where it can begin offering the chips to early-access customers.
The firm hopes these first users will begin to independently demonstrate the use of the platform for various applications as it works toward gaining additional financing to support large-scale manufacturing.
Ayoxxa CEO Andreas Schmidt told BioArray News that the company is "completely realistic" about how much it can accomplish with this initial funding round. "With this funding we certainly won't get to large, industry-scale production," he said. But, "we have a group of investors that are really committed … so that will be the target for our next round of funding.
"With this round we will develop our chips for a few applications, far enough that we can ship them to key early customers around the world: labs, academic as well as industry, where we think they have a high value using and publishing on it.
Ayoxxa's IBEA technology consists of an array of wells that hold three microliters of sample volume each. Samples can be "anything from blood serum to cell culture to other biological samples," Schmidt said.
Within each well is a "complex array" of between 20,000 and 40,000 beads covered in antibodies for protein analysis.
On Ayoxxa's website, the company writes that the in situ encoded bead arrays achieve greater multiplexing capability by recording the position of randomly distributed beads without the need for color coding for bead identification using a unique "postal code" assigned to each bead.
According to the firm, these batches of different beads, each batch being an assay or capture site for a specific biomolecule, are applied sequentially. The "postal code" of each individual bead in each sequential batch is recorded in a large decoding data table and, in the reacted chip, individual beads can be identified by such codes.
Schmidt said that the IBEAs can be used just like standard well plates. "It's basically just a very fancy [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay]," he said.
"We also try to keep all the standards and protocols really standard to the ELISA protocol that you would do in the lab or that these robots can do in big labs … but if you look into every well — if you look with a microscope — you don't get just one data point, you get between 20,000 and 40,000 data points out of three microliters of sample volume."
Schmidt also said the technology can be used with existing readers. "We didn't want to create a new reader technology, so you don't need any kind of flow cytometer or expensive device to read it out."
According to Schmidt, Ayoxxa wants to focus mainly on developing its IBEA platform, which customers can then use for a variety of assays and experiments.
"Ideally we want to be a platform that can work with a lot of the bioassays, particularly the bioassays on beads that already exist," he said.
"What we've shown so far is that a lot of bead-based assays work on our platform in smaller volumes with better dynamic range, more robustly with an easy way to read it out."
He explained that the firm plans to partner with other companies for "biological content," only developing a few "core assays" the company feels might be worthwhile to create in house.
Schmidt said Ayoxxa hopes to have IEBAs available to early customers next year.