Grant scheme funds companies that have already received phase 2 SBIR awards.

Firefly BioWorks received a $500,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Science Center to further develop its multiplex platform for biomarker detection. The award was made through the Center’s Small Business Matching Grant program, which is designed to provide additional support to companies that have already received Phase 2 SBIR funding from federal agencies.

Firefly says the new funds will facilitate the increase of production capacity, introduction of new products, and expansion of its team. “Our company is at an inflection point and these funds will accelerate our commercialization and the expansion of our customer base,” remarks Davide Marni, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO.

Firefly is exploiting its platform technology to develop instrument-independent assays for life sciences and clinical diagnostics. The firm’s flagship FirePlex™ assay, launched in March, is a custom 25-plex miRNA assay that can be carried out on standard cytometers. 

The entire miRNA detection process can be used directly on cell lysate and tissue digest and requires just three steps; hybridize, label, and report, Firefly explains. The hybridization step binds miRNA targets to target-specific probes attached to FirePlex hydrogel particles. Labeling ligates a universal biotinylated adapter to the captured targets, and a fluorescent reporter is then bound to the universal adapter to enable miRNA detection in a flow cytometer.

One of the key features of the hydrogel particles is that they enable capture of the target molecules throughout the entire particle, not just on the surface, which Firefly claims enables expression results that are nearly independent of sample amount and generates a linear response curve below 100 attomoles of target.

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