Maryland-based biotech company Circulomics has been awarded $1.5M as a SBIR Phase II grant from NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The grant is intended to facilitate the development of a single molecule platform capable of DNA and RNA sample quality analysis, based on Circulomics’ PicoSep technology.

1,5m grant

Circulomics Inc

PicoSep instruments use hydrodynamic separation to size nucleic acid molecules based on the flow behaviour in buffer-filled microcapillaries. The instruments are also capable of quantification through direct molecule counting after size separation has occurred. In this way, the instrument can quickly and accurately size and quantify DNA or RNA from picolitres of sample across a range of sizes, including short oligonucleotides and long, molecularly-heavy strands.

Initial development will focus on the production of kits for nucleic acid integrity analysis and sizing of high molecular weight sequences. The unique nature of the hydrodynamic mechanism should be able to size large DNA fragments (over 100 kb) more rapidly than currently used electrophoresis techniques, and the sensitivity of single molecule counting enables the machine to detect even minimal amounts of sample degradation.

Once the initial products have been completed, PicoSep can be used in conjunction with molecular assays to enable examination of other characteristics, such as quality or conformation.

When speaking on nucleic acid sample quality, Circulomics’ CEO Dr. Kelvin Liu said, “We see great opportunity in developing new tools to not only extract high quality DNA/RNA, but also to better characterise it before analysis. PicoSep offers an alternative to capillary electrophoresis that is fast, sensitive, and highly informative.”

This new grant is intended to build on previous Phase I work, to ensure continued development of the main PicoSep instrument, separation cartridges, and assay kits. With this added grant, Circulomics’ total funding now amounts to almost $5.8M.

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