MikroBiyosistemler A.Ş., a spin off of Turkey’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) and nurtured in that country’s leading science & technology park ODTÜ TEKNOKENT, has secured investment from Diffusion Capital Partners (DCP), Turkey’s first technology transfer and venture capital fund manager.
DCP, established within the scope of EU Pre-Accession Funding Programme, invests in high technology business concepts beginning from the seed-stage. The investment in the new company, founded by Prof. Dr. Haluk Külah and Prof. Dr. Tayfun Akın, will help bring the technology to the marketplace, where its developers expect it not only to improve cancer care, but also to add economic value to the region.
Mikro Biyosistemler is a fabless biomedical microsystems company, established in 2015, as a spin-off from ODTÜ. The company has an inter-disciplinary team of 10 R&D personnel, bringing engineering and life-sciences together, specifically with experience and know-how in MEMS and microfluidics technologies. The company’s focus is on the development of lab-on-a-chip systems for biomedical applications including Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) detection for early diagnosis and prognosis of cancer, and drug-resistant cell detection for personalized therapy in cancer.
CTCs are cancerous cells in the bloodstream, which are detached from a primary tumor site, having the potential to cause new tumor formation in separate tissue. Quantitative real-time assessment of CTCs in cancer patients in a noninvasive manner is crucial to assess the metastatic progression and to guide the therapy. However, the rarity of CTCs in circulating blood hinders their use as a biomarker in malignancies.
Although there are several companies working on the subject, only one of the developed systems is FDA-approved, and current technologies suffer from either low recovery rate (some portion of the CTCs cannot be collected) or low sensitivity (high false positive number). Mikro Biyosistemler’s microfluidic CTC isolation and enumeration system yields a higher recovery rate and high sensitivity. The proposed system enables fast processing of whole blood with minimal pretreatment in a stand-alone and low-cost system while keeping the cells viable, enabling downstream analysis.
Mikro Biyosistemler’s second product aims to provide a shorter and more effective chemotherapy process by establishing an early diagnosis of drug resistance during cancer treatment. In standard treatments currently, the chemotherapy drugs to be used are determined regardless of potential patient resistance to those medicines. As a result, clinicians often realize resistance only in later stages of treatment, necessitating lengthier therapy and more exposure to the damaging side effects of chemo agents.
The microchip-based system being developed by Mikro Biyosistemler enables early diagnosis of resistance, allowing doctors to better tailor chemo agents to specific patients and discontinue ineffective treatments earlier. The system will make it possible to shorten the treatment process and to provide better prospects in terms of treatment success and in preventing adverse effects of chemotherapy, the company says.
The company’s CTC detection system and chemotherapy guidance system are expected to be brought to market by 2020. Mikro Biyosistemler says the technologies will be cost-effective, rapid, portable, easy-to-use, and applicable in a variety of cancer types. The company transferred two relevant technologies from ODTÜ, which are both protected by patents in the U.S., Japan, Europe, South Korea, Canada, Israel and Turkey as well as the Eurasian Patent System. Further information on the start-up, go to its website at http://mikrobiyo.com.tr.
By Jesse Schwartz
Source: ODTÜ TEKNOKENT