NEW YORK – BioCopy is building up its cellular diagnostics and drug discovery offerings with its ValidaTe platform and plans to launch a spinoff focused on personalized diagnostics in the coming months.
ValidaTe is a microarray platform that measures up to 5,000 protein-protein interactions within an hour, but the company plans to double this throughput over the course of the year.
Günter Roth, the founder and CEO of BioCopy, and his colleagues developed the chip used in ValidaTe in 2012. Each series of chips is custom made for the arrays associated with a given experiment, and the company has a method for combining molecular complexes, such as peptide-HLA complexes, directly on the chip, where binding interactions are measured via a label-free detection technique based on single-color reflectometry, or SCORE.
SCORE functions by observing the shifts in a single wavelength of light caused by molecular binding events. "Basically, it's the physics of the soap bubble. If the thickness of the soap bubble changes, the color changes," Roth said in an interview.
The Swiss firm's patent for this process was granted in Germany two weeks ago, and Roth expects the international patent to follow soon.
BioCopy competes with companies such as Nicoya, Carterra, Cytiva, and CDI, all of which offer their own versions of a lab-on-a-chip. But BioCopy's use of label-free detection technology sets it apart from Cytiva and CDI, which rely more on fluorescence, thereby adding steps to the process that techniques such as SCORE and SPR (surface plasmon resonance) avoid.
Carterra's LSA platform and Nicoya's Alto both use SPR to measure molecular interactions, which operates by principles similar to SCORE.
In the case of Alto, samples are loaded into a cartridge that uses voltage-controlled fluid handling to move discrete volumes of analytes throughout that cartridge, in contrast to ValidaTe, wherein the entire reaction of interest takes place in a single well.
Regarding the competing SPR and SCORE technologies, Nicoya CEO Ryan Denomme commented that "new technology that helps drive the industry forward and helps solve new problems to drive our understanding of diseases forward is a good thing."
Nicoya has recently expanded its commercialization of Alto into the Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions, growing its install base and developing a series of new features and assay kits to be released throughout the year.
While BioCopy mainly applies its technology to drug screening for vaccines and T-cell therapies, it is moving into the diagnostics space. Last year, the company launched a biosensor used to determine how well an individual's own antibodies bound to the epitopes of various SARS-CoV-2 strains, thereby providing a measure of individual protection against the virus.
Based on ValidaTe, the firm is now starting to develop a method for measuring interactions between immune cells and tumor cells. If both sets of cells come from a patient, Roth explained, this could be used to assess whether and how well engineered autologous B or T cells bind to tumor cells before being transplanted.
This effort is currently in very early stages, but BioCopy hopes to leverage its ability to perform dynamic kinetic analyses to forge partnerships with T-cell therapy companies and other array makers.
Another application that the company is planning to investigate is developing a more specific and quantitative allergy test, capable of identifying specific epitopes and quantifying a person's reaction to them.
BioCopy's pivot towards diagnostics will involve spinning off a new company, while BioCopy remains focused on drug discovery. "We are discussing at the moment a daughter company, which will focus on individualized or personalized diagnostics," Roth said.
BioCopy plans to introduce the new company at the upcoming LSX World Congress for European life sciences companies in London this May and to have it up and running by the end of the summer. The company currently employs 32 people, three of whom have signed on to join the spinoff once it launches.