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MicroRNA Diagnostics Developer Miroculus Acquires Microfluidics Firm Kapplex

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Miroculus, a San Francisco startup developing microRNA-based diagnostic tests, said Monday that it has acquired Toronto-based microfluidics firm Kapplex for an undisclosed amount.

Miroculus emerged from stealth mode earlier this year at Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference. It aims to tap into the growing evidence that miRNAs can serve as useful biomarkers for a number of conditions including cancer and infectious diseases.

As such, the company has culled the scientific literature to build an open database of miRNA associations with diseases and other biomolecules, and has also developed a prototype instrument platform to detect and analyze miRNA biomarkers from patient samples using isothermal amplification techniques.

Kapplex, meantime, has a proprietary "digital microfluidic" platform that was developed in the laboratory of Aaron Wheeler at the University of Toronto. This platform is designed to dramatically simplify and automate traditional sample prep and analyses on a single low-cost chip, according to the company.

Kapplex spun out from the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation and the university's Innovations and Partnerships Office in 2012. Following the acquisition, Kapplex will become Miroculus' Canadian subsidiary, retaining its existing offices in the MaRS Discovery District.

Through the acquisition, Miroculus will be able to automate and simplify the detection of miRNAs from blood using Kapplex's digital microfluidic technology, significantly reducing the cost of the tests and making the technology available to labs and healthcare providers in limited resource settings, the companies said. In the future, Miroculus will use the technology to expand beyond microRNAs into multiple-biomarker diagnostic assays.

"We are excited to partner with the Miroculus team to combine our complementary technologies," Kapplex Cofounder and CEO Irena Barbulovic-Nad said in a statement. "Kapplex has been developing a versatile platform for immunoassays and molecular diagnostics which we will put in use now to detect microRNAs in blood samples. MicroRNAs are a very promising and multifaceted biomarker. We look forward to building the future of diagnostics with Miroculus."