Nanosphere Inc. has been awarded patent number 6,974,669 by the USPTO for their biobarcode technology. According to the press release:
Biobarcode technology promises to accomplish for protein detection what PCR has for nucleic acid detection and genomics. Biobarcode enables the detection of proteins in specimens with sensitivity several orders of magnitude greater than is possible with current leading technologies including ELISA or mass spectrometry. Ultra-sensitive protein detection technology will enable development of not only new clinical uses for existing biomarkers but also the development of diagnostic tests for previously undetectable biomarkers apparent in many diseases. This technology will enable much earlier detection of cancers (ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, etc.) and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, etc.), as well as enable the identification of patients prone to cardiovascular death that are presently missed in diagnosis. In addition, previously undetected and uncorrelated biomarkers may be developed for both drug development and diagnostic purposes.
For the first time, readily usable, cost-effective, ultra-sensitive protein detection technology will be widely available in a desktop instrument. Today, the only option for sensitive protein detection technology is mass spectrometry, which requires cost-prohibitive, physically immense systems and Ph.D.-level researchers to operate. These constraints effectively restrict ultra-sensitive protein detection to only the largest and best-funded medical centers and research institutes.
The biobarcode technology was developed by researchers at Northwestern University, including Dr. Chad Mirkin, professor of chemistry and director of the school’s Institute for Nanotechnology. The company has licensed exclusive rights from Northwestern to existing inventions involving nanoparticle probes and certain other technology developments in the area of biodiagnostics.