Some California dreamin’

Matrix Sensors, C3-Jian to develop microchip diagnostics based on engineered peptides

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PLEASANTON, Calif.—Matrix Sensors Inc. has entered into acollaboration with C3-Jian Inc. in which engineered peptides from C3-Jian willbe used on Matrix Sensors' microchip molecular detector arrays, allowinginitial evaluation of a diagnostic assay platform for commercial use.


Matrix Sensors develops technologies for life sciencebiomolecule and gas-sensing measurements. Los Angeles-based C3-Jian Inc. is aclinical-stage biotechnology company. Financial terms of the agreement were notreleased.


According to Dr. Randal Eckert, laboratory director forC3-Jian, "instrumentation capable of quantitative bacterial detection inreal-time will be the diagnostics of the future. By utilizing C3'sspecies-specific peptides in conjunction with Matrix's arrays, we can constructsuch a device for any number of industrial, research and medical applications."


Mike Cable, CEO of Matrix Sensors, points out that the useof engineered peptides can act as replacements for antibodies in antibody-paneltype assays for specific biomarkers and provides several advantages, includingefficiency in production, cost, reliability and robustness. In addition, apeptide array can alert to the presence of an unknown pathogen and provide afirst step towards identification.


"Matrix Sensors' technology provides an array of mass-sensitivedetectors allowing direct detection of reacting molecules without thecomplexities typically associated with label-based systems," Cable says. "Thisprovides a path to a simple, 'dipstick' based diagnostic assay using a Matrixmicrochip and a C3-Jian peptide panel."


While the companies have never worked together before, theyshare a common thread—the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).


"C3-Jian has specialized expertise in engineered peptides,and the companies have a common tie through the UCLA connection," making theman attractive partner for the collaboration, according to Cable.


The collaboration also has a simple focus, Cable points out.


"At this point, it is to do a proof-of-principledemonstration of use of a peptide panel to make protein measurements with aMatrix Sensors microchip," he says.


The combination of these diagnostics and species-specifictargeting of antimicrobials, another C3-Jian technology, represents anopportunity for focused treatment. This approach represents a significantimprovement beyond today's current practice of using broad-spectrum antibioticsfor bacterial infections, contributing to the emergence of drug-resistantstrains. The ultra-high analyte resolution and accuracy of the Matrix sensorsallows attogram (one quintillionth of a gram) resolution of specific molecules,and is extremely well suited to the application of pathogen identification.


Wenyuan Shi, chief scientific advisor at C3-Jian, andprofessor of microbiology at the UCLA School of Medicine, says C3-Jian isexcited about the focus of the joint collaboration.


"These efforts will allow us to further develop selective,efficacious and safer treatment modalities for infectious diseases with easierto use, lower-cost, ultra-sensitive, rapid pathogen detection," Shi says.


With the collaboration on the clock, the goals are set andthere are definite markers for success, notes Cable.


"We are looking for the demonstration of an expanded capability for theMatrix Sensors platform," he says. "We will measure success by the successfuldetection of example proteins performed under conditions relevant forproduction of commercial products." 

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