Antigen Discovery was awarded a $600,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to fund a collaborative project focused on developing a handheld, point-of-care microfluidic immunodiagnostics platform for detecting infectious diseases during mass disasters, natural disease outbreaks, or bioterrorist threats.

Announcement of the grant comes just a couple of days after Antigen confirmed being awarded $2.5 million by the NIAID to continue its work on the development of Plasmodium parasite biomarkers that indicate response to malaria vaccine candidates in development by Sanaria.

The diagnostic device partnership with scientists at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), will combine the latter’s air-liquid cavity acoustic transducer (ALCAT) technology with Antigen’s protein microarray technology and infectious disease serodiagnostic antigens. “We will design and build a microfluidic polymer-based chip that utilizes ALCAT, which provides the fluid actuation required for complex reagent handling in multistep colorimetric immunoassays,” explains Abraham Lee, Ph.D., UCI principal investigator, who is chair of the department of biomedical engineering, and director of the university’s Micro/nano Fluidics Fundamentals Focus (MF3) Center.

“ALCAT’s versatility as a single actuation technology is an easier method for on-chip integration compared with other POC platforms that require a different actuator for each fluidic process. By incorporating novel ALCAT-based approaches into protein microarray assays, we will have the versatility and power to reduce enzymatic development times, limit production costs, and fully integrate all components into a disposable assay.”

Antigen Discovery says the latest SBIR grant is the first it has received to support development of a medical device. “Thanks to support form the NIAID we have been able to build a significant portfolio of diagnostic markers for a wide range of infectious agents,” comments Philip Felgner, Ph.D., the firm’s founder and chairman. “We now plan to develop a point-of-care diagnostic system consisting of a cost-effective disposable microfluidic plastic chip and a portable analyzer that can be driven by a mobile computing device such as a smartphone for rapid serological evaluation of exposure and infection.”

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