LightDeck Diagnostics, a company formed earlier this year from the merger of startups mBio and Brava Diagnostics, has raised $11 million in funding for a new high-speed COVID-19 test, according to a statement.
The company’s novel test uses planar wave guide technologies to rapidly assess the presence of specific pathogens in a patient.
After collecting a patient sample, a user places the sample in a cartridge and then inserts that wave guide cartridge into the company’s proprietary analyzer. The sample mixes with a reagent pellet in the sample port where the substance is combined with a fluorescent molecule. After a predetermined amount of time, the sample-reagent mixture flows into the cartridge and combines with molecules that are printed as spots in an array on the wave guide cartridge.
“The fluorescent signal is proportional to the concentration of the thing we want to measure and is easily measured and interpreted by our instrument’s software to give the user a final result,” according to LightDeck chief executive, Chris Myatt. “We can measure molecules at very low concentrations reproducibly and quickly, which will make disease diagnosis and management more robust.”
Today, that means that the LightDeck Analyzer can determine whether a sample contains SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with 97.9% sensitivity and 99.6% specificity, the company said in a statement.
“In addition to COVID-19, we’re scaling tests for other indications, including heart disease and sepsis. We’re already shipping thyroid and hormone tests across the veterinary industry, and have received multiple grants to extend our water quality testing across the environmental industry,” Myatt said.
The company holds 30 patents on its technology, which was initially developed at the University of Utah and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, and commercialized as Precision Photonics Corp., founded by Myatt. Along with his chief technical officer, Mike Lochhead, and executive vice president Nick Traggis, Myatt spun out the diagnostic technology into mBio in 2009.
Brava Diagnostics co-founders Byron Hewett, Dave Okrongly and Carrie Mulherin worked together in several prior diagnostics companies, and together they bring decades of experience in the diagnostic industry, Myatt said. Brava had been working with mBio to commercialize its technology, but then to capitalize on the rapid changes in the diagnostic landscape this year the companies combined in July to take advantage of their expertise and synergies across technologies and business segments.
To commercialize its new diagnostic tools, the company has raised $11 million in Series B financing from investors including Incubic, Entrada and Boulder Ventures, the company said.
“This team at LightDeck combines expertise from diagnostic industry veterans with strong clinical backgrounds and the best minds in laser optics,” said Michael Chang, managing director at Incubic. “It’s a winning combination and a company well-positioned for growth through the pandemic and beyond.”