Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Wyss Institute start-up raises $5.15 million to develop advanced microscopic imaging

By David Schwartz
Published: October 20th, 2015

A start-up from Harvard’s cross-disciplinary Wyss Institute For Biologically Inspired Engineering has raised $5.15 million in Series A funding to develop a breakthrough imaging technology for diagnostics and drug discovery.

Based on research by Wyss’ Peng Yin, the company Ultivue is working on reagents that use small DNA strands to illuminate individual molecules in a tissue sample for unprecedented resolution that could make out heretofore unseen levels of detail in biology.

The technologies, known as DNA-PAINT and DNA-Exchange, are meant to improve upon super resolution microscopy, a new field whose inventors won the Nobel Prize in chemistry last year. Whereas traditional microscopes are limited in image resolution by the wavelengths of light, the new method allows researchers to apply fluorescent dyes to individual molecules, capturing images along the way to put together a more detailed picture.

Ultivue’s technology replaces the dyes with small strands of DNA that temporarily bind to their targets before moving on to another, creating the same high-resolution imaging while using less hardware. Researchers can also repeat the process over and over because the DNA floats on without building up the way dyes do.

With the Series A funding from Arch Venture Partners and billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, Ultivue aims to scale up to the commercial stage, according to co-founder David Walt. The initial plan is to offer its reagents, which fit with most common microscopy devices, to life sciences researchers across the globe and build an initial revenue stream. That money would then go towards the startup’s in-house development of diagnostic tests.

“The goal is to, for lack of a better word, democratize the technology so that any researcher who is really interested in doing this has the ability to do it,” Walt says.

Ultivue is currently in the stage of seeking out team members, including its CEO, and developing a business plan.

Source: Fierce Biotech

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