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Roswell Biotechnologies Teams up With UCB on Use of Molecular Electronics Tech for Drug Development

NEW YORK — Biosensing firm Roswell Biotechnologies said Wednesday that it has entered a research collaboration with biopharmaceutical company UCB.

Under the deal, the parties will evaluate the usefulness of Roswell's Molecular Electronics (ME) platform and chip for drug discovery in neurological, immunological, and rare diseases.

San Diego-based Roswell introduced the ME chip last year as part of an effort to shift into areas beyond DNA sequencing. The chip detects biomolecules by sensing changes in current across circuits completed by long, helical protein bridges linked to a molecule of interest. When other entities bind to that molecule, it produces a change in current, which is measured by the chip.

The width of the current pulses, which reflect a molecule's dwell time, and the time between them, as well as maximum and minimum current levels and the distribution of interactions, can be used to recreate familiar datasets, such as DNA melt curves.

Roswell plans to use the chip to detect binding partners to a variety of molecules including DNA and RNA oligos, aptamers, antibodies, and other proteins. According to the company, the UCB collaboration is the first of several early-access collaborations it plans to announce.

In February, Roswell laid off nearly half its workforce, cutting its headcount from 44 to 24 employees.

"UCB's commitment to better understanding disease for the benefit of individual patients and its strong culture of innovation makes it an ideal partner for Roswell," Roswell CEO and President Paul Mola said in a statement. "We look forward to working with UCB's scientists to tailor our chip to their unique drug discovery needs and to the beginning of what we envision will be a long-term, global collaboration."

"As we seek to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases, we are committed to working with organizations that have innovative and cutting-edge technology for accelerating the drug discovery process," Dhaval Patel, executive VP and CSO of UCB, said in a statement. "Roswell's biosensor offers a view of molecular interactions not available with current tools and could increase the scale of molecular screening."

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.