STTR Phase II: High Brightness Fluorophores for Bioscience Applications

Period of Performance: 09/15/2017 - 08/31/2019


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

StabiLux Biosciences, Inc
22151 Ridge Road Array
Houghton, MI 49931
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
Institution POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II project is the development of novel high-brightness fluorescence compounds (fluorophores). These compounds will find applications in flow cytometry, a laser-induced fluorescence technique that can analyze thousands of cells per second. This efficient technique is important for clinical diagnosis, and research in the areas of blood cancer, STEM cells, and drug development. In a flow cytometry test, each cell structure is stained with a known fluorophore that is conjugated with a specific biomarker. Thus, the population of all cell structures and types can be determined simultaneously by analyzing the fluorescence signals. Unfortunately, such analysis requires experienced engineers, reliable equipment, and high-performance reagents. The proposed high-brightness fluorophores will enhance the performance of equipment and reagents, and enable the detection of low abundant cell structures without complicated signal processing. In addition, these fluorophores will improve data reliability, reduce research and drug development time, and cost. These compounds also will simplify the design and reduce the cost of flow cytometry equipment, which will help to expand market adoption. The commercial impact of this technology is expected to be significant, as the market size for flow cytometry is expected to be $2.2 billion by 2018. This STTR Phase II project aims to establish a platform technology for the production of high-brightness fluorophores that can emit in various colors. In principle, flow cytometry could simultaneously detect up to 30 different parameters with 30 color signals. However, due to the issues of spillover (signal overlap), and auto-fluorescence (background noise), the current technology allows for just two- to eight-color analysis to ensure accuracy. These issues could be resolved in part by a complicated signal analysis, but this approach may be prone to analysis errors. The proposed high-brightness fluorophores are designed to overcome spillover by increasing the weak signals of low abundance cells. In addition, these fluorophores also may reduce or eliminate the need of autofluorescence background compensation by increasing the signal to noise ratios. A higher signal to noise ratio will enable scientists to obtain well-resolved data with more accurate conclusions within a shorter amount of time. This technology will allow the detection and sorting of low abundance cells, and will promote the progress of immunology studies, cancer research, as well as technology for early disease detection. This will enabling flow cytometry equipment to be used to its full potential for reliable multi-color detection, which will lead to better patient and research outcomes.