Quanterix said this week that it has received an investment of an undisclosed amount from In-Q-Tel, a non-profit investment firm that delivers technology to the US intelligence community.
The deal calls for Quanterix to develop its Single Molecule Array, or SiMoA, technology to detect pathogens via measurements of proteins and nucleic acids.
The SiMoA platform uses arrays of femtoliter-sized reaction chambers designed to isolate single molecules, enabling each well to serve effectively as an independent assay for a single molecule. This provides a high level of sensitivity the company hopes to use for the direct and non-amplified detection of pathogens.
The company has traditionally focused on developing the platform for protein-based tests such as prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s diagnostics, but it recently began branching out into pathogen detection.
In August, Quanterix announced its plans to explore SiMoA for this purpose, with CEO Martin Madaus telling ProteoMonitor that while it was “a new field of inquiry” for the company, early data had demonstrated the feasibility of using the platform for pathogen detection (PM 8/19/2011).
"If you can get the right level of sensitivity, you have a very highly simplified and very elegant way to check for pathogens at very low sensitivity levels," he said, adding that the platform would represent an alternative to PCR-based methods.
In-Q-Tel’s investment also indicates growing interest in the technology for defense-related applications, as it follows on Quanterix’s announcement at the beginning of December that it had received a one-year, $250,000 contract from the Department of Homeland Security to develop a SiMoA assay for detecting botulinum toxin.
“The ability to accurately detect the presence of low-abundance molecules makes Quanterix technology a critical additional to our strategic investment portfolio,” Syd Ulvick, IQT's vice president of physical and biological techniques, said in a statement.