To make the switch from conducting experiments in microtiter plates, Nanopoint developed protocols for target sets of applications. Scaling down from larger volumes to microliter amounts is not a direct 1:1 conversion. The adjustment to smaller quantities of materials requires refinements of procedures.
“The cost of developing drugs is astronomical,” says Owen, “so miniaturization helps to reduce costs.”
Moreover, both the cellTray microfluidic slide and accompanying cellTray Dish, which looks like a rectangular Petri dish and holds the slides, are reusable. Laboratories that perform live cell experiments in Petri dishes “toss out sleeve after sleeve of plastic Petri dishes that make a significant volume of biomedical waste,” Owen continues.
In contrast, cellTRAY dishes and slides are cleaned by sonication to remove particles, followed by autoclaving for sterilization. Notches in the cellTRAY Dish hold slides firmly in place while reagents are changed, and they can be stored in freezers without warping.
Owen says that Nanopoint is passionate about nurturing future scientists and skilled workers for the growing biotechnology industry in Hawaii. To inspire middle and high school students to become more interested in science, Nanopoint sells a reasonably priced cellTRAY science kit.
Students use a sterile toothpick to scrape the inside of their cheek, then deposit the scraping on a slide in the cellTRAY and stain it. Students observe their own live cells under a microscope. Teachers can reuse the cellTRAY dishes year after year to reduce costs. “We want to encourage young people to pursue scientific careers,” adds Owen.
Nanopoint’s location in Hawaii makes it easy to attract Asian customers, investors, and distributors.
“There is a large market for our technology in Asia,” she says, particularly for stem cell research. Through a network of Asian distributors, Nanopoint sells to government research labs, pharmaceutical companies, and university research centers in Korea, India, China, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Hawaii offers some of the most generous investment tax credits in the nation. Local investors get 100% of their money back over five years as tax credits. Investors from out of state gain extra equity, because local investors trade equity for unused tax credits.
This unique tax-credit program does much to help reduce investor risk. Hawaiian companies are eligible for fully refundable R&D credits as well.