The Bilayer Nanopore Integrated Assay for Complete Toxin Characterization, Phase II

Period of Performance: 07/15/2017 - 06/30/2018


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Electronic BioSciences Inc.
Principal Investigator


Project Summary During this program, Electronic BioSciences (EBS) will further develop, validate, and begin commercializing its in-vitro, cartridge-based, bilayer nanopore integrated assay (BNIA) for characterizing the complete activity of transmembrane toxins. A transmembrane toxin is a molecule that recognizes/targets a specific cell type via receptor-mediated targeting/endocytosis, forms a pore in the cell membrane, and transports itself or another molecule into the cell to disrupt cellular function, e.g. botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), tetanus (TeNT), diphtheria, shiga, cholera, pertussis, etc. While these toxins are innately hazardous to human health, their inherent cell targeting and enzymatic capabilities can also be harnessed for therapeutic benefit. Today, the emerging therapeutic uses of toxins include but are not limited to the treatment of muscle spasms, wrinkles, excessive sweating, depression, anxiety, anorexia, neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Parkinson's disease), and targeted cancer therapy. However, the limitations of current toxin activity assessment methods have constrained the field. Today, there is a need for a low cost, easy-to-use, rapid, highly sensitive, highly reproducible assay that is capable of individually quantifying the separate steps of the intoxication mechanism (i.e. the cell targeting/endocytosis and the intracellular enzymatic activity) to fully understand and utilize toxin functionality. The present standard for toxin activity assessments is the mouse intraperitoneal injection assay, which has numerous limitations, including price, variability, time, lack of sample quantification, and the utilization of live animals, in addition relying on a single endpoint determination that precludes assessment of the toxin's mechanism. Unknown or poorly understood differences in the potency (or mode of action) of toxin-containing therapeutics can confound clinical dose findings, result in over or under dosing patients, and delay (or prohibit) the development and/or availability of new/novel therapeutics. EBS' BNIA technology is capable of unprecedented toxin characterization in a low cost, easy-to-use, rapid, highly sensitive, highly reproducible, in vitro, cartridge-based platform. Furthermore, the methodology of the BNIA is customizable such that the complete activity of any transmembrane toxin can be quantified. The further development and commercialization of the BNIA under this Phase 2 program will be accomplished by further demonstrating the BNIA's utility and enabling features, developing BNIA beta prototypes, and introducing the developed BNIA to the academic and industrial user base. The developed BNIA, a technology for which there is no equivalent commercially available and the future gold standard in toxin, biotherapeutics, cell-targeting, uptake/internal activity, and causation mechanism quantification, will directly enable the research and development of novel toxin agents/samples, the development of antitoxin agents, the detailed study of toxin and antitoxin mechanisms, the evaluation of the causative effects of experimental variables on each specific intoxication modality, and the assessment of toxin potency in general.