Accelerbiotics

Biotech startup gets funding from Innovation Fund Denmark

Thursday 07 May 20

Contact

Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen
Laboratory Technician
DTU Biosustain
+45 29 88 00 48

About the Platforms

 

  • Platform 1 can perform rapid electrophoresis, used to separate small pieces of genetic material. The size of the pieces reveals which RNA, DNA or protein is involved. The electrophoresis can be performed significantly faster than today, as the technique for loading samples and reading the results is optimized and automated.

 

  • Platform 2 can purify biomolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins faster, cheaper and more sustainably because the electrodes are recycled. This platform can also be used to introduce external / foreign genes and DNA fragments into the cells via the so-called electroporation technique. Here again reusable electrodes are used, making the machine far more sustainable and cheaper to use than conventional methods.

The young company Accelerbiotics has received 470,000 DKK to develop two new platforms for quicker analysis done in large scale by medical companies, in research and at hospitals.

Accelerbiotics – a startup from DTU Biosustain – has now received a grant from Innovation Fund Denmark for further development and test of two platforms for electrophoresis, purification and electroporation. Especially electrophoresis is pivotal in testing of specific genes and proteins, which is done on a large scale in research, testing for viral and bacterial infections and in forensic laboratories.

 

Today, electrophoresis is done manually, often with a single pipette, which makes the process tedious, especially with a vast number of samples. Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen has worked for a number of years as Research Laboratory Technician at DTU Biosustain handling thousands of samples for electrophoresis, purification and electroporation. Often, the researchers had to be patient due to the slow handling and analysis.

 

Therefore, he spent sleepless nights wondering about how to make these key methods more efficient. These musings became the starting point for Accerlerbiotics, which previously received a grant of 150,000 DKK from DTU. With the new grant from the Innovation Fund the company’s platforms will hopefully soon get ready for lift-off.

 

“The idea was pretty simple. I wanted to develop a machine that could handle over a thousand samples at the same time and that could also streamline the work of loading the samples. In addition, I have worked on creating a dynamic design that is able to quickly – with the help of camera technology – read the test results. This both has great potential in research and in large pharmaceutical companies, where electrophoresis is a slow step in product development,” says Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen.

 

Easier handling and loading

The founders’ desire to get Accelerbiotics’ technology ready for lift-off has been further strengthened in the current Corona crisis, where there is increased need for test capacity. The new grant will, therefore, ensure that the company can further develop and test the technology and hopefully get it ready for market within a year.

"The idea was pretty simple. I wanted to develop a machine that could handle over a thousand samples at the same time and that could also streamline the work of loading the samples"
Simo Abdessamad Baallal Jacobsen, Research Laboratory Technician, DTU Biosustain and Founder of Accelerbiotics

 

With the new platforms, tests can be handled more easily than today, as samples are loaded into standard trays (SBS format). The reading of the results will also be significantly accelerated. Furthermore, the platforms use less reagents such as expensive liquids and plastics than current methods, which will make it cheaper and more sustainable.

 

“With the new grant, we will be able to further develop our prototypes and build two professional instruments; one for purification and electroporation and the other for electrophoresis. Then they will be ready for certification,” he says.

 

The technology is ready

The company has built two new platforms where the new InnoBooster grant from the Innovation Fund grant will develop both. One platform can perform purification and electroporation while the other performs faster electrophoresis.

 

The technologies behind the platforms are already patented at DTU Biosustain and have since been placed in the start-up company Accelerbiotics. In addition, a newly established collaboration with the Alexandra Institute will help develop new software to ensure efficient and automated reading of camera results.

 

“The technology is mature and clear. I expect that with professional production facilities, the machines can be produced in Denmark within 2-5 months,” he concludes.

 

New 'photo booth' provides quick answers

1. PCR

Scientists often need to analyze genetic material (DNA or RNA) and sometimes proteins to answer which virus, bacterium or genetic makeup is in a sample. In order to analyze the fragments, the small amount of genetic material present in a sample often needs to be copied millions of times. This step is called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and - if necessary - performed prior to the electrophoresis part.

 

2. Purification

When the genetic material has been copied millions of times, the small pieces often need to be purified from the rest of the 'cell residues' and other remains. This is typically done in expensive kits, but with the new platform from Accelerbiotics, this step becomes cheaper and more sustainable.

 

3. Electrophoresis

Once purified, the genetic material must be separated according to size. The separation is done by electricity; the shorter the piece, the faster it will move in a cool liquid (gel). Today, the samples are manually pipetted into a gel and read manually. Instead of a handful or up to typically 96 samples, Accelerbiotics' platform can handle 16 cassettes of 96 samples - ie. 1536 samples at once. In order to see the pieces, fluorescence is added, which under UV light causes the genetic material to light up in a specific pattern.

 

4. Results

The pattern reveals the virus, bacterium or genetic composition in question. This is important to know to diagnose viral diseases such as COVID-19 or in forensic cases. In the Accelerbiotics platform, a camera can take a picture of all the samples at once through all the cassettes. The platform will also automatically be able to divide the answers into groups according to the setting. The platform can thus be seen as some well-known reactions carried out in stacks in a 'photo booth'.

 

5. Use of the genetic material

One of the platforms can also introduce foreign genes or DNA fragments into cells via so-called electroporation. In this way, new traits can be introduced to cells, which is extremely important technique in research and drug development. Accelerbiotics’ platform performs electroporation faster, cheaper and more sustainable than today because, for instance, the electrodes are being reused and less reagents are needed.

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