The chips, say the company, are “the brains” behind its new platform for DNA sequencing, to support precision medicine, molecular diagnostics, rapid infectious disease testing, and DNA data storage.
“The urgent need for a new generation of rapid, low-cost, consumer surveillance and diagnostics tools has been made extremely clear in the current COVID-19 pandemic,” says Roswell President & CEO Paul Mola. “In that area, the Roswell molecular electronic platform will transform the way infectious diseases are detected, with powerful new capabilities that enable rapid screening of many infectious diseases at once, or many viral strains, with portable or handheld devices.”
Its platform, says the company, is the first to deliver the power of molecular electronic sensing, to support a full spectrum of DNA sequencing and biosensing applications. This includes the spectrum of tests necessary for the detection and containment of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, including sequencing, nucleic acid detection, antigen detection and antibody detection.
The platform was also designed with the scalability to provide the solution for rapid, low-cost whole genome sequencing in precision medicine, for treating cancer and other diseases, as well as for reading massive amounts of digital data stored in DNA, which is envisioned as the future of archiving data at the global scale.
Molecular electronic sensor chips integrate single molecules as electrical sensor elements on standard semiconductor chips, making electronic biosensor devices massively scalable. While electronic biosensors have seen gradual adoption in DNA sequencing and other areas of testing, says the company, there have been no major innovations in the basic sensor technology.
The Roswell molecular electronics sensors are offered as representing an entirely new class of sensors, specifically designed to be maximally compatible with modern CMOS chip technology, delivering a technological breakthrough that significantly increases performance and lowers costs. This advance, says the company, allows low-cost, high speed biomedical tests, including DNA sequencing and other forms of biomarkers sensing essential to modern medical diagnostics, to be deployed on simple portable or handheld devices.
“Although molecular electronics has long been hailed as a scientific breakthrough, its commercial viability required the technology to be put on a standard semiconductor chip,” says Roswell Chief Science Officer Dr. Barry Merriman. “One of the significant hurdles to commercializing molecular electronics is the need for costly customized solutions for large scale manufacturing. Imec has overcome those challenges by utilizing state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing technology coupled with its deep experience in biosensor technology to commercialize molecular electronics using standard tools. We are excited to be partnering with imec on this effort.”
Imec and Roswell say they have successfully completed key proof-of-concept work and are now focused on final process development. The initial products are expected to be commercially available in 2021.
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