Micronbrane Medical Aspires to Further Clinical Collaboration Following the Successful Series A Funding

by Richard Chau
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Established in February 2020, Micronbrane Medical is a Taiwan-based biotechnology startup company dedicated to the development of precision medicine. With an international team of scientists, engineers and innovators, the company is focused on the development of clinical pathogen diagnostic assays using metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) and its own patented host DNA depletion technology.  

Micronbrane’s PaRTI-Seq™ (Pathogen Real-Time Identification by Sequencing) enables accurate rapid pathogen detection which can identify both known and unknown pathogens with turnaround time of less than 24 hours. 

Successful Series A Funding Round and New Office in Hsinchu

In September 2022, Micronbrane raised $4.5 million in a Series A funding round led by the leading investor CDIB Capital Healthcare Ventures II. CDIB Capital Group currently has one RMB Healthcare fund and two NTD Healthcare funds under its umbrella. CDIB has invested in over 170 portfolio companies globally with assets exceeding US$2.3 billion under its management. Earlier in the same month, the company opened a new office in Hsinchu Science Park, which will become a new base for commercial and business operations, including further endeavors in research and development.

Behind the Innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of timely identification of pathogens causing various human infectious diseases, especially for patients where differential diagnostic turnaround time is critical (such as those in the emergency room or intensive care unit). Until now, most clinical diagnostics have relied on blood culture tests or PCR tests, and in some cases, NGS tests. Blood cultures, however, can detect pathogens only in 20-30% of cases with a long turnaround time (up to 7 days), while PCR can only identify predefined pathogens. In comparison, NGS tests can identify all pathogens at once (both known and unknown), but it still has not been widely adopted due to its high costs constituted mostly by human background. More than 99% of total sequencing results result from human DNA interference, which makes identifying low amounts of pathogens impossible and contributes the most to the cost. Micronbrane addresses this major bottleneck of human background interference with its zwitterionic membrane coating technology. Micronbrane has applied for patents globally and was granted by the EU recently. The Devin™ filter product derived from this technology allows the removal of most human cells within only 5 minutes, providing pathogen-enriched samples for various downstream applications for pathogen identification, including NGS tests. The Devin™ filter helps to decrease sequencing cost by up to 75%. Compared with other NGS-based tests on the market, the PaRTI-Seq™ test can be up to 50% less expensive. This product is currently for research use only. The company is collaborating with several clinical institutions to launch it as a Laboratory Developed Test (LDT) for use in clinical settings. Leveraging the Devin™ filter and other products and technologies incorporated into PaRTI-Seq™, Micronbrane is determined to bring more rapid, more accurate and more affordable diagnostic solutions to the market.

Clinical Testing and Opportunities for Researchers and Clinical Investigators 

Micronbrane Medical is currently collaborating with Taipei Veteran General Hospital and China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan to validate the Devin™ filter and PaRTI-Seq™ with clinical samples. First clinical results were presented at the ECCMID 2022 held in Portugal this April, demonstrating the enrichment of the microbial reads in the blood samples processed with Devin(™) filter in the PaRTI-Seq(™) workflow. Illumina recently joined one of the projects foreseeing the great potential in early diagnosis of human infectious diseases. 

Besides that, Micronbrane is looking forward to expanding clinical collaboration around the world and welcomes all researchers and clinical investigators to join the Clinical Research Program. Areas of collaboration may include testing the efficacy of Devin™ filter with isolates of DNA/RNA from various pathogens, comparison of effectiveness of the filter with other host DNA removal strategies, and applications of the filter in human samples other than whole blood and efficiency of the filter in unique settings. 

Democratising Future Diagnostics of Infectious Diseases

Looking to the future, Micronbrane Medical intends to establish collaborations on clinical validation with further introduction of the PaRTI-Seq™ test into clinical settings. Currently, Micronbrane is tightly negotiating with several partners, including leading clinics of the US. The company foresees that the PaRTI-Seq™ test can help to democratize clinical diagnostics of infectious diseases in near future and become a lifesaving solution for millions of patients.

To learn more about Clinical Research Program. please press here.

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