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Some California dreamin’
January 2010
by David Hutton  |  Email the author


PLEASANTON, Calif.—Matrix Sensors Inc. has entered into a collaboration with C3-Jian Inc. in which engineered peptides from C3-Jian will be used on Matrix Sensors' microchip molecular detector arrays, allowing initial evaluation of a diagnostic assay platform for commercial use.


Matrix Sensors develops technologies for life science biomolecule and gas-sensing measurements. Los Angeles-based C3-Jian Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company. Financial terms of the agreement were not released.


According to Dr. Randal Eckert, laboratory director for C3-Jian, "instrumentation capable of quantitative bacterial detection in real-time will be the diagnostics of the future. By utilizing C3's species-specific peptides in conjunction with Matrix's arrays, we can construct such a device for any number of industrial, research and medical applications."


Mike Cable, CEO of Matrix Sensors, points out that the use of engineered peptides can act as replacements for antibodies in antibody-panel type assays for specific biomarkers and provides several advantages, including efficiency in production, cost, reliability and robustness. In addition, a peptide array can alert to the presence of an unknown pathogen and provide a first step towards identification.


"Matrix Sensors' technology provides an array of mass-sensitive detectors allowing direct detection of reacting molecules without the complexities typically associated with label-based systems," Cable says. "This provides a path to a simple, 'dipstick' based diagnostic assay using a Matrix microchip and a C3-Jian peptide panel."


While the companies have never worked together before, they share a common thread—the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).


"C3-Jian has specialized expertise in engineered peptides, and the companies have a common tie through the UCLA connection," making them an attractive partner for the collaboration, according to Cable.


The collaboration also has a simple focus, Cable points out.


"At this point, it is to do a proof-of-principle demonstration of use of a peptide panel to make protein measurements with a Matrix Sensors microchip," he says.


The combination of these diagnostics and species-specific targeting of antimicrobials, another C3-Jian technology, represents an opportunity for focused treatment. This approach represents a significant improvement beyond today's current practice of using broad-spectrum antibiotics for bacterial infections, contributing to the emergence of drug-resistant strains. The ultra-high analyte resolution and accuracy of the Matrix sensors allows attogram (one quintillionth of a gram) resolution of specific molecules, and is extremely well suited to the application of pathogen identification.


Wenyuan Shi, chief scientific advisor at C3-Jian, and professor of microbiology at the UCLA School of Medicine, says C3-Jian is excited about the focus of the joint collaboration.


"These efforts will allow us to further develop selective, efficacious and safer treatment modalities for infectious diseases with easier to use, lower-cost, ultra-sensitive, rapid pathogen detection," Shi says.


With the collaboration on the clock, the goals are set and there are definite markers for success, notes Cable.


"We are looking for the demonstration of an expanded capability for the Matrix Sensors platform," he says. "We will measure success by the successful detection of example proteins performed under conditions relevant for production of commercial products." 
Code: E011014



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