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Zephyrus Biosciences Lands $1.9M to Develop Single-Cell Western Blot Tech

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — Life science research tool firm Zephyrus Biosciences said today that it has secured approximately $1.9 million in funding to develop and commercialize its single-cell Western blotting (scWestern) system.

The $1.5 million series seed funding was led by Bay Area investor group Life Sciences Angels, and also included Mission Bay Capital, The Angel Forum, the Stanford StartX Fund, and several individual investors with deep life sciences experience, Zephyrus said.

In addition to the seed funding, Zephyrus said it has been awarded a $350,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, and has accessed $10,000 from the UC Bakar Fellows Program.

The scWestern technology enables researchers to analyze proteins in thousands of single cells, and is expected to enable advances in diseases like cancer where understanding heterogeneity in cell populations is critical, Zephyrus said. It is a variation on traditional Western blots, but rather than processing bulk samples, it uses a microfluidic disposable to perform rapid Western-based analysis on the proteins in thousands of individual cells.

The technology is based on more than five years of research in the laboratory of University of California, Berkeley researcher Amy Herr, who also co-founded the company along with CEO Kelly Gardner and Josh Molho. The researchers published on the approach in Nature Methods in 2014. Zephyrus has an exclusive license to the technology from UC Berkeley.

"Our vision is to provide the tools to enable researchers to unlock the cell-to-cell variation that drives cancer pathogenesis and stem cell differentiation," Gardner said in a statement. "We believe that this technology will fundamentally transform how researchers think about cancer and other diseases."