Virogenomics, Inc. Awarded $2 Million National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program Grant

Published: Oct 04, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Virogenomics, Inc. today announced that the company has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a Sensor System on Panel (SSOP) that tests for many different biological markers in a single assay.

Successful development of the SSOP could revolutionize research on and the diagnosis of multifactorial conditions such as autoimmune disease and allergy, enabling earlier treatment and the development of more specific therapeutics.

Medical diagnostic methods typically test for a single "biomarker" that indicates a possible disease state. This approach provides only limited information because many diseases have multiple contributing factors and surrogate markers of interest. For that reason a single test can never provide a complete diagnosis. Autoimmune diseases, allergies, cancers, and infectious diseases can have many different causes and manifestations, and could be better diagnosed with devices that can test for many different markers in a single assay. Virogenomics has proposed developing such a device using transducers made with existing microelectronic manufacturing methods and is based on technology licensed from Oregon Health & Science University.

The proposed Sensor System on Panel (SSOP) will include all the hardware and firmware required to do a complete analysis of the interaction of biological molecules and communicate the result. The SSOP will incorporate at least two types of transducers and several transducer sub-types as well as circuit elements for command and control functions. Each sensor will have many transducers, each with a specific protein attached. When a patient sample, either serum or saliva, is applied to the device, the SSOP will detect any proteins that bind to any of the proteins attached to the transducers. The device would be the size and shape of a typical USB flash drive, and could be read on a standard personal computer through a USB port. No current technology offers this level of flexibility in design, fabrication, and operation.

Collaborators on the project include the Materials and Device Applications Lab within Sharp Labs of America, Directed by John Hartzell; Raj Solanki, Ph.D., Professor of Physics at Portland State University; and Arthur Vandenbark, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine and Senior Research Career Scientist at the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center.

"The ability to rapidly screen for multiple disease markers and antibodies in real time on a microchip will enable health care providers to make on-the-spot medical decisions," said Dr. Arthur Vandenbark, co-inventor of one of the biochip designs to be developed for use on the SSOP.

"This grant is a catalyst. It brings together regional strengths in semiconductor manufacturing, diagnostic devices, and molecular immunology." said Jeff King, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer of Virogenomics. "By teaming up with Sharp Labs for device expertise and semiconductor manufacture, OHSU for autoimmune and allergy expertise, and PSU for engineering of micro and nano materials, we have built a world class team."

"We are excited about the opportunity to apply our biosensor platform technology to next generation diagnostic applications and create potentially ground breaking technology with our collaboration partners" said John Hartzell, Senior Director, Sharp Labs of America, (Camas, WA) "Sharp Labs looks forward to collaborating with leaders in the Oregon biotechnology community that have a track record of commercial development of diagnostic products."

About Virogenomics

Virogenomics is a privately held biotechnology company based in Tigard, Oregon. Virogenomics' business strategy is to identify and obtain rights to early-stage technologies, manage and develop these technologies to a critical phase, and then spin-off the developed technologies into new start-up companies. The autoimmune technology was spun-off in 2004 into a subsidiary named Artielle ImmunoTherapeutics. The stroke technology was recently spun off into its own entity, NeuroProtect, Inc. I D Biopharma, was formed via the consolidation of infectious disease technologies from Virogenomics and additional technologies from Oregon Health & Science University.

About SLA

Sharp Laboratories of America is the U.S. based research and development laboratory for Sharp Corporation, Japan. Sharp Labs is focused on performing fundamental and applied research that results in new technologies and innovations.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and its only academic health center. It is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with more than 12,000 employees. It serves more than 184,000 patients, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,900 students and trainees. As a leader in research, OHSU earned $307 million in research funding in fiscal year 2007. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region's bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every 2.7 days, with more than 3,500 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 132 inventions in 2007 alone, and OHSU research has resulted in 33 startup companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.

About Portland State University

Portland State University (PSU) serves as a center of opportunity for over 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Portland, Oregon, one of the nation's most livable cities, the University's innovative approach to education combines academic rigor in the classroom with field-based experiences through internships and classroom projects with community partners. The University's 49-acre downtown campus exhibits Portland State's commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while many of the 120 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. PSU's motto, "Let Knowledge Serve the City," inspires the teaching and research of an accomplished faculty whose work and students span the globe. For more information visit

About NIST Advanced Technology Program

The Advanced Technology Program bridges the gap between the research lab and the market place, stimulating prosperity through innovation. Through partnerships with the private sector, ATP's early stage investment is accelerating the development of innovative technologies that promise significant commercial payoffs and widespread benefits for the nation. As part of the highly regarded National Institute of Standards and Technology, the ATP is changing the way industry approaches R&D, providing a mechanism for industry to extend its technological reach and push out the envelope of what can be attempted. For additional information contact Michael Baum, NIST Public and Business Affairs Division, (301) 975-2763,

CONTACT: Jeff King of Virogenomics, Inc., +1-503-626-8354,

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