IBRI Develops Tech that Helps Diagnose Diseases Faster

IBRI Develops Tech that Helps Diagnose Diseases Faster

The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI), a leading independent, industry-inspired applied research institute, is pleased to announce that it has completed development of two technologies – BioMEMs and SIERRA Reagent – with potential to diagnose diseases faster with more accuracy, which means moving to treatment quicker for patients.

BioMEMs (biological microelectromechanical) and SIERRA (Signal Ion Emission Reactive Release Amplification) Reagent are concrete examples of how the IBRI is living its mission to convene collaborators within Indiana’s life sciences sector to partner on research and develop innovative solutions that improve health.

Michael Pugia, PhD, investigator and director of the IBRI’s Bioanalytical Technologies group, has been working to design and research these technologies over the past 20 years. Upon arrival at the IBRI in 2016, Pugia and the IBRI began collaborating with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the Indiana University School of Medicine, Purdue University, University of Notre Dame, Indiana Integrated Circuits and the State of Indiana to bring these technologies to fruition.

“My research passion has always been to identify immunity markers for infections in diabetes and obesity. So, when I had the opportunity at the IBRI to lead a team whose mission was to develop technologies that would diagnose diseases more efficiently and effectively, I took it,” said Pugia. “I’m proud to say we achieved our goal two years ahead of schedule with the completion of and testing of BioMEMs and SIERRA.”

BioMEMs is system that uses micro-sized components to reduce cost and improve sensitivity of diagnostic tests. SIERRA Reagent is the platform that helps diagnose infections and other diseases from a single cell. Used together, they are more sensitive than what is currently available and provide results faster than products on the market today. For example, on average, results can take between three and seven days to obtain with current technologies. BioMEMs with SIERRA Reagent can provide results in 15 to 60 minutes.

Now that BioMEMs and SIERRA Reagent have been tested, the IBRI has elected to license the technology to BioMEMS Analytics LLC, a startup based in South Bend, Ind. While BioMEMS Analytics will work to commercialize this technology, the IBRI retains commercial rights in SIERRA Reagent and research rights.

“We are pleased to work with the IBRI. The organization truly is a convener of industry and academia and a catalyst for innovation,” said Brad O’Chap, CEO of BioMEMS Analytics. “These single cell technologies that Michael and the IBRI have developed are more sophisticated and provide a more comprehensive picture of a cell. We’re eager to launch a process that will bring these technologies to market by the end of next year.”

The IBRI’s vision is to build a world-class organization that catalyzes activities across the life sciences ecosystem. These technologies are an example of how we do so. The IBRI and Pugia are grateful for the support of the following organizations and individuals:

  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    • Assistant Professor Frédérique Deiss, PhD, who helped add an electrochemical screening assay demonstrated through culture-free bacterial detection in clinical samples using BioMEMs and SIERRA Reagent (manuscript under consideration).
  • Indiana University School of Medicine
    • Professor Chandan Sen, PhD, who provided research support and guidance.
  • Purdue University
    • Professor Steven Wereley, PhD, who collaborated on research submitted to Lab on a Chip about BioMEMs and SIERRA Reagent.
  • University of Notre Dame
    • Scientists who assisted with research, early evaluations and market assessments.
  • Indiana Integrated Circuits
    • Jason Kulick, president, who worked with Pugia on chip development.
  • State of Indiana
    • Granted support for the research and product development through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
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