Immunotherapy — It uses a body’s own immune system to fight cancer — and also just happens to be one of the hottest topics in the medical technology area recently… Oh, also it’s completely dominating the biotech scene in Seattle, it’s taken over giant research facilities such as Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and even Alpine Immune Sciences, a start-up company…
But it’s pretty complex, in order for it to work, doctors need to handle thousands of cells and molecules, which can indeed prove to be quite difficult…
But let’s welcome Nexgenia, a brand-new startup that can easily sort samples by tweezering out certain cells and molecules, which could prove to be invaluable when it comes to creating these immunotherapies…
With CEO Ron Myers at the helm of the operation, Nexgenia is now employing their tech into the production of immunotherapy, and Myers now is saying that the company will soon be expanding to brand new applications.
The new operations will be fueled directly from a big $2 million dollar fund, from mostly W Fund and the Washington Research Foundation.
“We’ve learned a lot about our technology in the last two years,” Myers said. “There’s a whole host of applications we could take these reagents into, and we’re still digging down into what will be the best applications to pursue first.”
Nexgenia is using polymers, which are long chains of organic molecules, that have been programmed to respond to certain stimuli such as temperature, salinity, or acidity. “So basically polymers will be in a solution at 25 degrees but if I increase the temperature to 27 degrees they will come out of solution,” Myers says.
In using antibodies, scientists can now make polymers that can latch directly on to certain cells or molecules, and then by adding some metallic compounds, but they can also draw the polymers and cells closer together so that they can extract them from a special solution. Watch it in action right here:
There aren’t many companies are able to produce reagents that are so effective, Myers said, particularly because detaching the cells is important step in immunotherapy.
The reagents are currently being used to separate, expand, and activate cells during the immunotherapy process, but could also be used in areas like molecule and protein separation, or even diagnostics, Myers said.
“Basically, if you have something you want to remove from a a sample or out of solution we can do that for you under virtually any condition,” he said.
Nexgenia was spun out of the University of Washington’s Pat Stayton Lab in 2011 and Stayton, one of the original founders, still works as a consultant with the company. The startup employs eight, and is based on the UW’s campus.