Seattle-area proteomics startup Prolinx plans to develop protein microarrays with a portion of $16.8 million it has just raised in a private financing round.
The company, based in Bothell, Wash., will use a synthetic binding pair of small molecules that it developed early on as the anchoring technology for its protein arrays, said Leslie Linkkila, Prolinxs director of sales and marketing.
We attach a small molecule to the [probe] protein first, and do it in a high throughput manner. Then this reaction can be spotted onto chips crude, without an intermediate purification step, she said.
To immobilize this protein-small molecule complex onto the slide, the company scientists treat the glass slide substrate for the protein arrays with another small molecule, which forms the other half of the binding pair. The complex formed between the two molecules anchors the proteins to the chip. Then a wash step removes any small molecules not bound into a complex.
This ability to wash away all unbound molecules without disturbing the probes allows researchers to get high signal-to-noise ratios and no background, Linkkila said. In addition, the surface on which you spot those proteins is not active, and therefore is stable. So if you do protein chips in [large] numbers, the capacity of the last chip will be unvaried from the first.
Prolinx plans to release its protein chip in the fall, and is currently beta testing it at several sites, including one company that is considered a competitor, according to Linkkila.
Our initial strategy is to get the tools in the hands of people who are developing these chips, said Linkkila. The company is relying on these developers to produce improvements in the technology to spot down the chips. Conventional array spotters do not work well, said Linkkila, because the pins do not allow for good spot morphology.
Prolinx, which has 10 of its 34 people working on its protein array technology, also plans to introduce a line of proteomics-related reagents to go with the chips. This kit, said Linkkila, would provide the whole toolbox for protoemics developers.
New investors participating in the financing included Stephens Group and Wheatley Partners. Existing investors Tullis-Dickerson, BA Venture Partners, Axiom Venture Partners, Technology Funding, Javelin Capital, MDS Ventures Pacific and Sofinnova Ventures also participated.