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Biotech Take-off! NTU and NARLabs Collaboratively Launches Cutting-Edge Medical Devices to Revitalize the Biotechnology Industry from SPARK Program

In response to the active promotion of the biotech industry by Taiwan government, National Taiwan University plans to model "NTU SPARK Translational Research Program" after Stanford SPARK Program, well-known as the cradle of American biotech industry, to establish training modules, courses and consultants. This program, via Supra Integration and Incubation Center, trains personnel that are expected to enrich Taiwanese biomedical and translational medical device development. It has only been two years since implementation, and two innovative medical devices are set to be released, which is generally acknowledged to help improve the quality and efficiency of diagnosis, speed up drug development, reduce costs, benefit patients, and revitalize Taiwanese biotech industry.

"Disposable Chip Detection Technology and Multifunctional Imaging System" Rapid Molecular Diagnostics System

ELISA is one of the primary molecular diagnostic methods. However, this expensive clinical test requires professional technicians and long working hours. "Disposable Chip Detection Technology and Multifunctional Imaging System" may change the situation. This new technology was jointly developed by NTU nano-biomedical research group led by Professor Chii-Wann Lin of Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Graduate Institute of Biomedical Electronics and Bioinformatics, Instrument Technology Research Center (ITRC), National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) under Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as Material and Chemical Research Laboratories, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). With smart design, this system can not only reduce the time of immunoassay by 4 times but also increase the sensitivity of immunoassay by more than 12 times, comparing to traditional immunoassay method. This disposable chip detection technology is greatly reducing the cost of testing by improving the operation and reaction process, which makes molecular diagnostic easy and user-friendly. It is the leading optical biosensor amongst other competitors at present.

Professor Chii-Wann Lin explains the three advantages of this newly developed innovative system:

1. Integration of micro-optical nanostructure technology and chip manufacturing raises the sensitivity of surface plasmon chip by more than 12 times than that of previously developed plasmonic chips.

2. The chip contains special aptamer probe with high specificity that can directly react with target proteins. This design eliminates the time-consuming and expensive reaction steps such as labeling and antibody modification. Compared with ELISA, the operation time can be reduced by approximately 4 times, achieving the goal of rapid detection.

3. Very little liquid sample (20 µL) is needed in one test. In addition, the biological reaction can be completed without any additional power meaning only minimal reagents and consumables are needed thus reducing the consumption of resources.

Other than the diagnostics system, room-temperature signal amplification technology based on nucleic acid hybridization is also developed to increase biomolecule detection signal. Unlike traditional immuno-PCR, this invention is enzyme-free; thus, the temperature control to meet the requirements for enzyme activity is needless, which reduces a great deal of testing costs. The results were published in the November issue of the Biosensor and Bioelectronics (3/74, 2015), a reputable journal in the field of analytical chemical and biological sensors.

In the future, "Rapid Molecular Diagnostics System" and "Molecular Amplification Technology" would be integrated and widely applied in the front-line screening in various service delivery models. For example, it can be applied to the testing of bird flu, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and the development of new tumor testing as well as integration of testing platforms.

"Disposable Chip Detection Technology and Multifunctional Imaging System" was jointly developed by NTU, ITRI, and ITRC, NARLabs.

Principal Dr. Pan-Chyr Yang of NTU (in the middle of the photo) presents "Disposable Chip Detection Technology and Multifunctional Imaging System" together with the joint research team.

"MOVIS Portable In-vivo Optical Imaging System" reduces the loss of experimental animals and allows to track the weak fluorescence imaging from a living animal to speed up drug development.

Jointly developed by Professor Wen-Shiang Chen of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of NTU Medical School and ITRC, the MOVIS Portable In-vivo Optical Imaging System, via advanced optical instrument technology and image overlay technology, searches and locates florescence and luminesce hidden inside of animals. It can continuously observe the proliferation of cancer cells and therapeutic effects in live animals. The core technologies of MOVIS can be further applied to observe plant florescence, insects, zebrafish, and pathological sections, etc. Moreover, it can reduce R&D costs for researches and avoid death in study animals.

The system itself is small, only one tenth of the size of current state-of-the-art instruments. Its portability and affordability allow researchers to have their own customized instruments. Its convenient real-time monitoring and analysis increase experiment efficiency. It is believed to have great market potential after launching the product and can benefit research teams in the clinical and basic medicine research.

ITRC and NTU jointly develop "MOVIS Portable In-vivo Optical Imaging System," revitalizing the medical devices industry. (Photo provided by Office of Executive Vice President for Academics & Research of NTU)

2016/2/22 updated