BiotechnologyLocation: HSEB TBA (HSEB TBA)
Journal Club-PhDLocation: HSEB TBA (HSEB TBA)
- Agri-Analysis, Inc.
09/2008 - present.
Comments: The Herron group is developing a fluorogenic assay for botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) that involves a peptide mimic of the SNAP25 fusion peptide that BoNT proteolyzes inside the neuron. The peptide is 10-12 amino acids in length and has two fluorescent dyes attached. The doubly labeled peptide is almost non-fluorescent in the absence of BoNT because the two dyes self-quench through strong dimerization. However, if BoNT is present in the sample, it cleaves the peptide in half, and the dyes dissociate and become highly fluorescent after they diffuse outside of their FRET radii. We’ve developed the fluorogenic BoNT assay in 96-well plates. High throughput screening (HTS) applications include QC/QA of BoNT manufactured for both cosmetic and therapeutic applications. We’ve presented one poster (Engelhardt and Herron) on this work and I’ll be presenting an invited presentation about it in June 2013. This work was supported by NIH flow through grants to both the Pacific Southwest Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research and more recently to Agri-Analysis, LLC (West Sacramento, CA). Dr. Herron is a Multi-PD/PI of the latter project and also consults with Agri-Analysis.
- PLC Diagnostics.
12/2006 - present.
Comments: In-plane parallel scanning or “IPPS” is a new evanescent wave biosensing technology invented by Profs. Herron and Doug Christensen (Bioengineering) and physicist Dr. Reuven Duer. In particular, two intersecting series of channel waveguides are embedded in the substrate of a microarray chip, with assay detection zones located at each intersection point. One series of waveguides is used to excite fluorescence in the detection zones, while the other series is used to collect it. This sensing format enables rapid, inexpensive scanning of the chip and random access of any detection zone on the chip. Duer, Herron and Christensen co-founded PLC Diagnostics in late 2006 with initial capitalization of about $700,000. However, investment dried up during the financial crisis, so Drs. Duer and Herron tried to secure NIH SBIR (or STTR) funds by writing seven different proposals in 2009. None were funded, though four were scored. Although we could have resubmitted some of these, private investment started flowing back into the company in 2011 with a present capitalization of about $3M. Dr. Duer is presently the President and Chief Scientific Officer of the company and Dr. Herron chairs its scientific advisory board. We published an article in Analytical Chemistry describing the IPPS format in 2010, which generated some interest in both the technology and the company. Also, C&E News ran a companion article about it online: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/88/i43/8843news6.html.
- MBio Diagnostics.
01/2006 - present.
Comments: The Herron group has 25+ years of experience with a platform biosensing technology based on evanescent planar waveguides (EPW), including more than 20 issued U.S. patents and nearly 40 foreign ones. We’ve used this platform to develop EPW based assay formats for performing immunoassays, nucleic acid hybrdization assays, and nucleic acid primer extension assays. Our business model is to develop enabling EPW technology for specific POC diagnostics assays in our lab and then transfer the technology to the private sector. An example is MBio Diagnostics (Boulder, CO) who licensed our EPW patent portfolio for inexpensive, near patient HIV test for global health markets. They are presently performing late stage clinical testing at eight different sites with endemic HIV and plan to launch their first product later this year. Prof. Herron consults for MBio and also collaborated with them on a sponsored research project in 2009-2011.