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Fluent BioSciences Wins $1.7M SBIR Grant from NIH to Commercialize Single-Cell Tech

NEW YORK – Fluent BioSciences, a single-cell technology startup, said on Wednesday that it has received $1.7 million in funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The two-year, Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant will fund reproducibility testing and commercialization of its Pre-templated Instant Partitions (PIPseq) technology for single-cell analysis.

Based in Watertown, Massachusetts, Fluent has now raised a total of $26 million, including four other NIH grants worth $2.9 million and a $19 million Series A financing round in 2020, led by Illumina Ventures and Samsara BioCapital, with participation from Cowin Ventures, VC23 Ventures, and Civilization Ventures. The company is a spinout from the laboratory of Adam Abate at the University of California, San Francisco.

PIPseq uses "templated core particles that have unique barcodes to capture cell and transcript information" and a partitioning reagent to create cell emulsions without microfluidics. Fluent claims the technology can reduce multiplex PCR primer conflicts and enhance amplification uniformity across targets. Moreover, the library preparation is performed in a single-tube PCR format that eliminates sample loss and minimizes cross-contamination.

"Our mission is to accelerate the understanding of biology and disease through accessible, affordable, and scalable single-cell analysis solutions," Fluent CEO and Cofounder Sepehr Kiani said in a statement. "This grant is further validation of our unique technology that finally brings the power of single-cell analysis to every researcher without the burden of high-cost complex instrumentation and one-size-fits-all consumables."

The firm is offering a product for 3' single-cell RNA analysis under an early-access program.