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Quanterix Partners with Sony DADC to Develop Array-on-Disc Platform


This story has been updated to include comments from company officials.

By Justin Petrone

Quanterix and Sony DADC last week announced an agreement to manufacture "smart consumables" for the life science and in vitro diagnostics markets.

Under the terms of the deal, Quanterix's single-molecule arrays will be manufactured on optical discs by Sony DADC, creating what the firms claim will be the first diagnostic consumable available in such a format. Salzburg, Austria-based Sony DADC also manufactures CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs.

Quanterix said it plans to develop and manufacture a fully automated instrument for its array technology, which will rely on these disc-based consumables to support a menu of tests. The Cambridge, Mass.-based firm expects to launch the life science instrument and consumables in 2013, followed by an IVD platform to be commercialized in 2014.

Martin Madaus, Quanterix's executive chairman, said in a statement that the company decided to partner with Sony DADC because its optical disc technology provides the firm with a consumable that "meets the requirements of high-sensitivity diagnostics."

Harald Kraushaar, vice president of business development for Sony DADC's biosciences business, said in a statement that the deal will expand the company's original equipment manufacturing business in the life science and diagnostics markets.

Founded in 2007 on technology developed at Tufts University, Quanterix's platform consists of arrays of femtoliter-sized reaction vessels, where each vessel is sized to confine a single molecule of interest. The arrays are formed by etching tens to hundreds of thousands of separate reaction vessels into the end of an optical fiber bundle.

Each vessel can be used to trap single molecules, and the optical fiber bundle carries light into and out of each vessel, allowing each well to function as an independent assay for a single molecule. Quanterix’s system also features a proprietary image-capture device and image-analysis software.

David Hanlon, director of strategic marketing and collaborations at Quanterix, told BioArray News this week that each smart consumable disc manufactured by Sony DADC will contain 24 individual assay chambers, with each chamber containing a high-density array of 500,000 femtoliter-sized wells that may be used to isolate, seal, and image individual immunocomplexes.

Ali Tinazli, Sony DADC's North American director of business development and sales for its BioSciences business, added that the decision to move the single-molecule array technology to a disc format was market driven, unlike other platforms in the industry, which he said have been technology driven.

"We believe this is the first time ever that the disc format is being preferred due to its economics," Tinazli told BioArray News. Translation of such consumer industry formats into the biomedical arena will "facilitate the market penetration of such new technologies" as the single-molecule array platform, he said.

Quanterix has always positioned its technology for the diagnostics market. "This is not some esoteric technology that only a few research centers will have," Nick Naclerio, its former CEO, told BioArray News in 2008. "Our goal is to develop this to the point where it’s affordable for life-science researchers, as well as affordable for use in clinical diagnostics" (BAN 9/9/2008).

Since that time, the company has focused on a few test development programs. Last year, it received $733,437 in grants under the US Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project program, funded through the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The firm said at the time that it would use the funds to develop its AccuPSA prostate cancer test. It also said it was developing tests for Alzheimer's disease and Crohn's disease (BAN 11/2/2010).

Last week the firm said that its AccuPSA test demonstrated a 2-log improvement in sensitivity compared to existing enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for measuring prostate-specific antigen in patients following radical prostatectomy. The firm will present data on the comparative study next week at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry annual meeting in Atlanta. Quanterix said that it will publish the results of the study later this year.

Hanlon said that the company is looking at "additional areas and applications in oncology, neurology, inflammation, infectious disease and cardiovascular" disease. He said that Quanterix's participation in the QTDR has allowed it to establish collaborations with clinical researchers worldwide to "enable the development of new content in important areas with high unmet need." These collaborations will help to validate Quanterix's technology and begin to build a customer base for its research instrument.

"We will continue to develop content internally and offer the user the ability to run our kits or develop their own assays with the open platform," Hanlon added. "Some of these tests will eventually be offered for the IVD market."

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com.