Nanotechnology continues to hold significant promise for medicine, though not only in the form of nanorobots that swim through the blood stream. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Matthew Putman, the CEO of Nanotronics, which is developing cutting-edge diagnostic systems for medicine among other fields.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What exactly does Nanotronics do?
Matthew Putman: Nanotronics looks at features in the nanoscale over a larger area than other high resolution microscopy and inspection tools. There has always been a trade-off between seeing the very small and seeing it over a large area, as well as the expertise required for both. Nanotronics uses a very old technology, microscopes, with the latest processors, cameras and our algorithms to get around these problems. We also do some artificial intelligence (AI). In this case it means classifying what those small features exactly are.
Medgadget: Can you describe specific use cases/applications to medicine?
Putman: Our technology can be used throughout medicine, and I wish we had more time to pursue all of the areas. I am especially interested in early detection of disease and cancer as a preventive measure. One example of this is for using the increased resolution and AI tools to recognize trends earlier to allow doctors and patients to make decisions quickly. We have started to do this for cervical cancer screening, where an OBGYN can take a sample, and use our tool in the clinic to provide results before the patient leaves the clinic. this could be used for other routine cancer screening such as colon cancer. We also work in medical research where our high throughput scanning and classification allow researchers to gather data in minutes rather than days. Rather doctors, engineers or researchers, we want to free them to do what they are trained to do as creative people, and let our machines do the heavy lifting rapidly.
Medgadget: Can you describe why Nanotronics may be a large player in the Internet of Things?
Putman: Companies that have made production and clinical equipment in the past have had official releases on average every 2-5 years. This means that they cannot innovate as fast as the technologies that surround them. The internet has given us a new paradigm for development and for implementation. Nanotronics uses Agile development, which allows us, like a web site, to provide improvements daily. We can also do these updates remotely and automatically, making it seamless for the client. I think that medical research and industry will move in this direction eventually, and we are happy to be early in this process.
Medgadget: You have some fairly influential advisors, who are more known for consumer startups. What can you tell us about what that means for your company?
Putman: This is true that Peter Thiel, who is actually on our Board of Directors, and Jaan Tallinn who is an advisor, have been involved with some of the biggest names in consumer tech. They think very big though, and from my experience seem to be interested by radical shifts in technology, no matter what space they are in. The experience they bring is different than mine as I have always worked as a supplier to industry. A new perspective on what humans want is important whether they are humans at a major corporation or a college dorm. We all want to see the future in ways that excite us.
Medgadget: Are there any competitors and, if so, what is your advantage?
Putman: We don’t really see anyone as a competitor. Everyone is a potential partner. For instance we partner with Nikon and Olympus for optics, and Leap Motion for gesture control. We also supply and AFM head for our tools. We occupy a new space that measures on a different scale, and for such a value that the barrier to entry for our clients is relatively small. It would take buying multiple tools, by multiple suppliers to do the same thing. So, really everyone is a friend.
Link: Nanotronics Imaging…