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Wake Forest, NanoMedica to Partner on Sequencing Technology

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

Physicists at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and NanoMedica Inc., a biotechnology company also in Winston-Salem, received a Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop a faster process of drug development. The $700,000 grant from National Institutes of Health is supplemented by a $160,000 award from North Carolina Biotech Center to develop the technology called Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead for the commercial market.

Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead aims to accelerate the process of genetic sequencing using a one-inch square device that holds millions of wells, with each bead holding a drug molecule attached to a microscopic bead. The Lab-on-Bead would use sequencing to test potential drug targets, such as proteins associated with cancer. The interactions of the drug target with drug-molecules on the beads would indicate a “hit,” and thus a potential candidate for development.

The Wake Forest research team, led by physicists Keith Bonin, Jed Macosko, and Martin Guthold will develop the sequencing technology with NanoMedica, whose portfolio includes screening with diverse chemical libraries, soluble fluorescent detection reagents, and a dual-action targeted and triggered-release drug delivery system.

NanoMedica foresees the Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead also as a potential medical diagnostic technology. Instead of a testing a drug target, for example, the beads would test a biopsy sample for binding to diagnostic molecules, and indicate if the biopsy sample was cancerous.

NanoMedica specializes in biomedical applications of nanotechnology and microbiology. The company relocated from New Jersey in 2010 to be in closer proximity to the Wake Forest research team.

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