A handheld PCR device that can detect infections like Ebola for less than a dollar waits in the wings for commercialisation.
The PCR device prototyped by Professor Pavel Neužil uses chips that have already been fabricated at various places: Singapore (Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Institute of Microelectronics), Netherlands (MESA Institute in Twente), and the United States (NIST at Gaithersburg, MD).
Neužil: An academic, who has over 15 years of experience at S&P500 American corporations in leading new technology and product development.
“We use two types of technologies: contact printing with 2µm linewidth and i-line stepper with 0.5µm linewidth. The process is designed for the application,” said Neužil. He is now looking for investors and manufacturers who would take the device to commercialisation.
Neužil is primarily an academic with a PhD in electrical engineering from Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic. He has worked with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, where he was involved in development of a fast PCR system based on micromachined silicon. Since then he has been primarily interested in portable, simple and economical systems for point-of-care diagnostics based on molecular methods.
He is collaborating with CEO, Xu Ying, of a company that will commercialise the PCR system. Xu has over 15 years of experience at S&P500 American corporations in leading new technology and new product development in electronics and medical devices industries.
The most obvious low-cost manufacturing location for Neužil is China, since he is often at the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China, continuing his work on the system. However, “the key challenges for us to start a biomedical technology business in China include the lack of deep knowledge of related Chinese regulations and the local market needs, as well as the Chinese ways of conducting business,” he said.
Neužil has just started talking to potential Chinese investors. “At the beginning, we plan to start the business using our own resources,” he added.
Editor’s Note: My guidance on PCR was acquired from several sources, including yourgenome.com; if you are new to PCR and are keen on learning about it, that’s a good place to start.