Core Quantum Technologies (CQT) has been awarded a $150,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Science Foundation to develop fluorescing nanoparticles for medical diagnosis, imaging, and research.
CQT was co-founded by Jessica Winter, a professor in The Ohio State University College of Engineering; Gang Ruan, a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering adjunct professor at Ohio State; and Chemical Engineering alumnus Kunal Parikh. The Columbus-based start-up company invented a type of nanoparticle that emits different colors to tag molecules in biomedical tests.
CQT’s product, the MultiDot, is a group of semiconductor nanoparticle quantum dots encapsulated in polymer-based micelles that allow researchers to continuously track tagged molecules with greater brightness, longevity and stability than currently available technologies. In biomedical applications, researchers could attach the MultiDot to specific cell structures and better identify and understand disease progression. A product variation called the Magdot adds magnetic particles to enable separation and manipulation of cellular biomarkers.
According to Winter, the products are among the first with enhanced stability for clinical and pathology applications. “This technology has very real potential to enhance clinical diagnosis improving patient outcomes,” she said.
CQT plans to use the SBIR funds to test and refine a patent-pending, high-volume manufacturing process and validate the MultiDot’s functionality in assays used by pathologists.
The company is in the process of raising $750,000 to commercialize the MultiDot. Including the SBIR grant and a recent $100,000 investment from the Ohio Third Frontier Technology and Validation Start-Up Fund, CQT has raised nearly $300,000 to date.
“The MagDot and MultiDot represent the next generation of fluorescent markers for the research and diagnostic market,” said CEO Ted Greene. “The market for Core Quantum Technologies is growing over 30 percent per year and we are well positioned to become a leader in the market.”
The NSF SBIR Program is designed to increase the incentive and opportunity for small firms to undertake cutting-edge, high-quality scientific, engineering, or education research that would have a high potential economic payoff if the research is successful.
Core Quantum Technologies licensed the quantum dot technology through The Ohio State University Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) earlier this year.
“They are moving very quickly to first sales and should be ready in a few months to launch a first product,” said TCO Vice President Brian Cummings. “Since this is a platform technology, they have a lot of industry segments to pursue so maintaining a focus is critical to their success.”
CQT is just one example of TCO’s proactive model for start-up creation and success that brings together a suite of services that is unmatched at any other university in the country.
According to Greene, the total quantum dot market is estimated to be $7.4 billion by 2022. The biomedical imaging, detection, and tracking segment of the market is estimated to reach $300 million by 2017. Other industry applications include alternative energy, electronics, personal health care, and veterinary medicine.