ACOA lends $3 million to develop portable lab
April 24, 2019
HALIFAX – The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is providing a $2.99 million loan to Alentic Microscience Inc., which has devised a pocket-sized diagnostic device that can generate test results in under five minutes, from any location, using only a drop of blood from a pinprick.
In collaboration with Honeywell International Inc., Alentic obtained a multi-million dollar contract with the Canadian Space Agency to develop specific diagnostic tests and a device to monitor astronauts’ immune systems in real time, according to a news release by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
“All of us at Alentic Microscience are deeply grateful to ACOA for their enabling financial support. This contribution will allow us to achieve critical research, development and commercialization milestones on our path to selling Alentic’s revolutionary diagnostic devices in Canada and abroad. The money further allows us to grow our superb team as we approach market entry,” said Alan Fine (pictured), CEO, Alentic Microscience.
The loan through ACOA’s Business Development Program will help create six jobs, including a biological engineer, a software developer and an embedded systems engineer, in addition to maintaining 15 jobs, to help with the planning, detailed design, prototype assembly, testing and clinical trials of new devices.
Alentic is now commercializing its technology to be used in hospitals, clinics, veterinary settings or in the field.
The device uses patented technology to analyze a tiny quantity of blood, producing high quality blood test results immediately at patient point-of-care. The device can perform different types of tests rapidly, which will improve patient care, reduce wait times, lower costs and increase healthcare efficiencies, according to the federal development agency.
Alentic Microscience has been granted 10 patents in the United States, one in Canada and one in China, with many more patents in progress.
Alan Fine is a professor of physiology and biophysics and biomedical engineering at Dalhousie University. Dr. Fine has studied optical imaging for most of his career. His newest device was inspired by his pioneering work in lensless microscopy, an optical imaging technique that avoids the blurring caused by light diffraction that affects even the most powerful lens-based microscopes.
Lensless microscopy can be used to look deep inside human tissue and is particularly suited to studying living cells. It has become an essential tool for Dr. Fine, whose research focuses on the cellular dynamics of how the brain processes and stores information.
Said to be simple to use, a fraction of the size and costing orders of magnitude less than traditional diagnostic equipment, Dr. Fine’s lensless device is a potential game-changer in both clinical and industrial applications. The technology is now being refined and tested by Alentic Microscience Inc., a start-up company founded by Dr. Fine and his research team.