Program ID: Innovation Anthology #431
Program Date: 11/03/2011
Program Category: Health and Medicine, Nanotechnology
ACAMP: NanoSpeed Diagnostics Trials Vitamin D Test
PROGRAM #431 INTERVIEW WITH DR. SEEMA GUPTA AND DR. ROBERT MURAKAMI
MP3: 9.9 MB
Time: 10:56 Minutes
Dr. Seema Gupta is President of NanoSpeed Diagnostics Inc. The company is developing point of care diagnostic tests that will reduce the cost and wait times for lab tests. Test4D will address the Vitamin D deficiency that plagues North America. Another product in the works will be a thyroid test use "lab on a chip" technology. The Edmonton-based company is using the ACAMP facilities to help with commercialization of its new tests. ACAMP is the Alberta Centre for Advanced Micro Nano Technology Products.
Dr. Seema Gupta
SG: We started this company in late 2009. The company is focused on developing the point of care tests for clinical diagnostic industry.
We have two main platform technologies in the company. The first one is Test 4D™, which has lateral flow amino acid based technology. Since you know Vitamin D deficiency has been globally recognized.
So we’ve developed a test which you can either perform at home or at a doctor’s office or at a pharmacy and within ten minutes you know whether you are or you are not Vitamin D deficient.
Lots of people have been taking Vitamin D supplements without even knowing their basic vitamin D levels.
The second technology, the platform technology that we are developing is Lab on a Chip, which is again a point of care testing. And lab on a chip technology is a quantitative technology which tells you the exact number for the test that you are looking for.
What we are developing in NanoSpeed at the moment is for thyroid profile--that is TSHT3 and T4 levels. Simultaneously you can find out the exact levels of TSHT3 and T4 in your blood.
At this moment, the test which is basically used for the thyroid profile analysis is done separately for all the three analytes but we have developed the technology where it can be analyzed in a drop of a blood within 30 minutes. And it can be done in a doctor’s office or it can be done in any small lab. It doesn’t require any expensive equipment or something like that.
So our main vision is to develop further point of care tests which can bring a revolution in the clinical diagnostic industry which can also help the health services, take some burden off the health services. Because these tests are quite inexpensive as compared to the current testing system that is in place right now.
And these tests people can do at home. They don’t really have to go to the doctor’s office, get a requisition, go to the lab, get the blood drawn and do the tests.
So those are basically the two platform technologies that NanoSpeed is developing.
In addition to Vitamin D test, another test which can be done at the home is our pipeline product, which is a test for calcium and tests for iron. Which most of the women have been going to the doctors, get them done on a monthly or a quarterly basis. So those are the main platforms and our vision is to bring more diagnostic tests for the clinical industries which are point of care.
CC: WHERE HAVE YOU ACTUALLY DEVELOPED THIS TECHNOLOGY?
SG: This technology was all developed at NanoSpeed. The lateral flow assays has been out there for other different things, for example, pregnancy test kit, which is also based on a similar technology.
So we developed both lab on a chip as well as Lateral Flow Immunoassay at NanoSpeed headquarters, the NanoSpeed lab.
Test 4D™ is already in a position; we are going ahead with our clinical trials. We are doing our feasibility studies. And those studies, once we have the results, they will be submitted to Health Canada as well as to FDA for the approval.
Once these tests are approved, then they are easy to market, especially in the US market where people pay from their own pocket for all the tests they are not covered by health services there. So it’s an easier market for us to penetrate as compared to Canada.
But we are working with the health services also to see if it can be brought into their panel and this test can be paid for by the health services.
Even if it is paid for by the people by themselves, each test is going to cost you about $35. That is the retail price for the test. So it will still be much cheaper than the price that Health Services is paying for the actual Vitamin D test to be done in the lab, which takes three to four weeks to get the results.
CC: WHAT DO THE KITS ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE?
SG: It’s a very small kit. It’s a test strip and then there is a dropper which you use to take a drop of the blood from your finger. And then there is another small dropper bottle and you just put six drops of the solution that’s in the dropper bottle, wait for ten minutes, and it shows whether you are deficient in Vitamin D or you’re not.
CC: WOULD IT BE SIMILAR TO THE BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL, INSULIN TESTING THINGS OR STRIPS THAT PEOPLE HAVE?
SG: Not exactly, because blood sugar is a quantitative test. It gives you a number. This test will not give you the number.
It is similar to the pregnancy test. Pregnancy test is done in urine but this test will be done in blood. So you just require a drop of blood from your finger.
CC: AND THE LAB ON A CHIP, THEN, IS THAT USING THE MICRO FLUIDICS?
SG: Yes. Lab on a chip is using the micro fluidics. For lab on a chip, also you require a drop of blood from your finger. Everything is supplied within the chip. All you do is just put a drop of blood and just use one of the reagents after adding the blood to the chip, wait a few minutes and then there is an optical reader which will be supplied along with the chip. You insert your chip into the optical reader and it will give you the number for your thyroid profile.
And this similar technology can be exploited in some other areas of the clinical diagnostics too.
CC: WHY DO YOU CALL IT NANOSPEED?
SG: Because it’s nanotechnology based. So that’s why we named it as NanoSpeed, because most of the tests that we are developing are nanotechnology based tests.
CC: YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED WITH ACAMP. WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM?
SG: ACAMP is like our contract manufacturer for our micro fluidic chips. So ACAMP has been helping us with developing the chips because they have the main facility to manufacture these chips and our engineers along with ACAMP have designed the chips which ACAMP has been fabricating for us.
It’s been a really good relationship with ACAMP since we can go easily back and forth, make the changes and get their advice, their engineers’ advice and our engineers together.
So basically ACAMP is helping us with the manufacturing part.
CC: SO NOW THAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT DOING CLINICAL TRIALS, HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE? HOW MANY MONTHS OR YEARS BEFORE YOU WILL ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO SELL THESE?
SG: There are two different things. The clinical trials for the Test 4D™ are going to be finished in the next six months. But the clinical trial for our thyroid profile may take a bit longer than that because we haven’t reached that stage yet where we can say we’re starting clinical trials for thyroid profile. It might be a few months before we even start that. But Test 4D™, we are in a position where we can start clinical trials now.
We are already writing our clinical trial protocols for submission to Health Canada and FDA. And we are collaborating with NACTRC at U of A for our clinical trial for our Test 4D™, as well as Ward 21 in Calgary.
CC: WELL THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SEEMA.
SG: You’re welcome.
Dr. Robert Murakami is the CEO at NanoSpeed Diagnostics Inc. He talks about the huge market potential for the company's point of care technology.
Dr. Robert Murikami
CC: WELL ROBERT YOU’RE INVOLVED IN THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE PRODUCTS HERE AT NANOSPEED. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS BEING YOUR MARKET?
RM: We see as our market, anybody who is really interested in their own personal health. Vitamin D, as we know, has been linked to a number of human ailments. There has been a growing trend exponentially of the requests for Vitamin D tests from patients to doctors or doctors to patients and through that going to the labs for tests.
CC: AND WHO HAS BEEN EXPRESSING INTEREST IN NANOSPEED OR YOUR PRODUCTS?
RM: Just about everybody we talk to. If you look at the average person right now, they are taking Vitamin D supplements. And they could be taking as much as 3 or 4 thousand IU a day or international units of Vitamin D a day.
A lot of people are taking 1000. But they still don’t know if they are deficient or not. Because they have to go to their doctor, go through an exam, fill out the form, have the doctor fill out the form, go to the lab, get the test, then wait until somebody calls you to let you know. And that usually takes three to four weeks.
CC: WHILE YOU’RE STILL WORKING TO GET THIS OUT ON OUT TO MARKET AND GET THROUGH THE TRIALS, HOW ARE YOU RAISING MONEY IN ORDER TO KEEP EVERYTHING GOING ALONG?
RM: Raising money is always a challenge especially for an early stage technology company like NanoSpeed. And we are talking to angel investors both here in Alberta as well as the rest of Canada.
We are looking to really try and grow organically as well. So we are very, very focused on our milestones and timelines to get the Test 4D™ product out to the market.
CC: NOW LAB-ON-A-CHIP IS SOMETHING A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT. HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THAT COMPETITION? IT MUST BE REALLY GROWING IN THAT AREA?
RM: There are a lot of companies that are doing lab on a chip. And a lot of companies that are close or not close to developing that technology.
We are one of those companies that is developing lab on a chip for a very specific use which is going to be a clinical diagnostic testing of certain analytes as thyroid profile.
CC: DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW BIG A MARKET THIS IS GOING TO BE, IN THE MILLIONS OR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS?
RM: Well if we look at our first platform, which is our lateral flow platform, and our Test 4D™ product and similar products for that, the Test 4D™ product line alone in Canada will be about a $200 million dollar market annually. In the United States it will be some factor greater than $200 million. And in the rest of the world it will be again a greater factor.
Just about everybody in North America is Vitamin D deficient.
CC: WITH THE HELP THAT YOU ARE GETTING FROM ACAMP, WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GET THIS ANYWHERE ELSE?
RM: For the lab on a chip technology, ACAMP has been vital in our development of the prototype chips and our understanding of how micro fluidic technology works so that we can actually design a chip to meet our needs.
And ACAMP has been one of those great corporate partners or institutional partners that with their expertise has helped us along the way.
CC: THANK YOU VERY MUCH ROBERT.
RM: Thank you.