028 – Overview of Lab on a Chip World Congress

The Lab on a Chip World Congress was this past week in San Diego.  There is some amazing technology like “body on a chip” that can mimic human metabolism and function so animal testing is minimized as well as more traditional point of care diagnostics that are truly fit the definition of lab on a chip.  Developing a diagnostic or lab on a chip product?  Check out our new program that will be beta launching soon and you might be able to go through it for FREE.

  • Mike Gavin from PortaScience [4:29]
  • Kamlesh Patel from Sandia National Laboratories [5:28]
  • Steve Maylish and Bruce Sargent from Fusion Biotec [9:21]
  • Ned Saleh from Plasmotica [15:15]


Next Steps:
Text INVENTION to 44222 to stay updated about upcoming beta launch of program for entrepreneurs and inventors.

Guests:
Mike Gavin
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Kamlesh Patel
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Steve Maylish 
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Bruce Sargent
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Ned Saleh is the co-founder and CXO at Plasmotica. He is a Scientist/Engineer/Inventor/Entrepreneur with a broad range of skills and training in optics, ultra-fast lasers, plasma and high-energy density physics, high-performance scientific computing, electron beam applications in microscopy, and other fields.
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Companies:
PortaScience – 
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Sandia National Laboratories
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Fusion Biotec
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Plasmotica is a stealth seed-funded startup in the mobile point of care diagnostics domain. They focus on bringing Moore’s Law into microfluidics and mobile diagnostics.

Host: Meghan Alonso
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Host Company: Imua Services
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All Podcasts:
iTunes: bitly.com/Inspire

Podcast Transcription:

Recorder: Are you ready to master the waves of medical device product development? Well wax up your surfboard because you are listening to inspired by Imua. Here is your medical device product development expert that Hawaiian hearted hostess who will help you hang ten. Meghan Alonso.

Meghan: E komo mai and aloha! You’re listening to inspired by Imua, where we help you master the waves of medical product development. Each week we interview guest that educate, guide and inspire to give you and your product the skills you need to hang ten. If this is your first time listening, Imua is spelled I-M-U-A. It’s a Hawaiian word, it means to advance forward with passion despite rough waves. There are plenty of those in medical device development but keep listening because we’ve got you covered.

So as I am recording this episode, Lab on a Chip World Congress in San Diego has just wrapped up. It’s a multi-tract conference going on and it specializes on quite a few things actually. So lab on a chip is what it’s called nut there’s point of care technology; there’s a next generation sequencing technology; all of these is related to the diagnostic world and some pretty cool things are happening in that. Lab on a chip is traditionally was used for diagnosis, so utilizing small channels instead of a more traditional lateral flow test like a pregnancy test. This is taking a small sample whether it is blood or urine or saliva running through some serpentine channels with some reagents and you get your answer you know positive or negative in a qualitative results with of how much a particular pathogen is there. But it also a kind of reignited the CD industry so there’s a lot of lab on a chip technology utilizing old CDs. You look at an old CD player and they’ve taking that technology and use that like a centrifuge and have your sample in the middle and the sample is span out as being rotated. So literally it looks like a CD which is pretty cool. One of the keynotes was Dr. Robert Schuler who is working on. So after lab on a chip, we’ve had organ on a chip; body on a chip and that’s what he is really spearheaded. The cool thing on that he is he just won an award last year, 2015 Lush prize for Science and this was based on we’re getting way from using animals from models in testing new drugs. So what you can do with this organ on a chip in particular the body on a chip is all of the tissues that this system is built with is they take on human properties coz they’re made of human cells, they can stimulate the human metabolism, the human functions and even the toxic side effects as well as testing how efficacious are these drugs going to work. All of this is done without using animals at all, which is pretty cool. One fact that I thought was pretty shocking is for every fifty drugs that are redeemed safer animals, only one those is proven safe for human. So this is a way that we can really just jump that whole process of working animals and just go straight to humans anyway which is a lot more applicable. So I’ve captured some audio from this show, I’m just gonna play those audio clips so that you can have a peek into that particular conference and what’s happening on the Lab on a Chip World.

Mike: Hi my name is Mike Gavin on peer with PortaScience working with IW Tremont. We’re exhibiting here at Michael Poting’s conference. IW Tremont produces lots of different materials used in diagnostics and laboratory assays. For me tonight Michael’s discussion is about lateral flow devices in particular was quite interesting is because nobody has really tried that hard to understand really the fundamentals of the limitation of the lateral flow devices and many of the things he would talk tonight would lead you to think that we could see a tenfold or hundredfold improvements in sensitivity and still retain that great simplicity and low class structure lateral flow devices. It’s early for the conference but for me that’s one of the better talks that I saw. None of the other stuff ran on my head that I kinda understood.

Kamlesh: Hi, my name is Kamlesh Patel and I am from Sandia National Laboratories. I live in California. I’ll be speaking tomorrow on a topic of Animal Sequencing and sample technology and a couple of animal sequencing for field goal sequencing technology. One of the main points I think you can get from this talk is the fact that animal sequencing is real and it’s actually beyond just a play toy. They’re right at the cosmo pretty real sequencing technology for the field. It would be pretty much graphic in approach on how people use this technology for diagnostics and how it is going to change the way how we look on the information and how we collect the information for sequencing in order to get that fundamental level on what’s wrong with you; what’s going on from a health perspective or even the diagnostic trying to get the answer quicker than you could with the conventional process.

Meghan: So for those that aren’t familiar with diagnostic maybe there’s people listening and have background on orthopaedics, explain what that is a little bit more. Why it’s so groundbreaking? Why it’s better than the more traditional lateral flow style pregnancy test or maybe even on a lab on a chip test?

Kamlesh: Sure. From my perspective I work on a government lab, so the story that’s best to explain this kind on a public health. So you think about let’s say Zika. You have Zika on a certain area and everybody is worried of do I have or do I not. So you have folks that are worried and we call them the worried well and they’re not infected but they think they’re sick and they are going to the hospital nonetheless. And asking that I still feel I’m sick and you have people who are really sick. Unfortunately, techniques of real string of the public health system when you have people who are worried well and the folks that are perhaps sick. So you can quickly screen out the ones that are sick versus not sick. That allows you to really save your intensive resources for the folks that are sick and you can screen out that aren’t and say, “No you’re not sick with Zika, you may have the flu or some other ailment that are causing the symptomatic response.” So that’s one scenario that diagnostics in the field or point care could really help screen a lot of people with those cases this time.

Meghan: So you are with Sandia National Lab, imagine that you have some government funding that you are working with. Along that same van, what are some other initiatives, public health initiatives that you guys are working on?

Kamlesh: Sure. So public health is broad prospect proven that you think about the international perspective and homeland perspective. So we have programs that we’re working with West Africa and South America. It’s one thing to have protection on disease diagnostics in United States but really on this concept of one health one global health, we will really go to the source square a lot of these diseases are emanating so empowering for this in West Africa and South America with this type of technology is a big difference and it prevents it from coming to this country. You do protection in the United States but also globally, so it’s a big difference.

Meghan: Protecting the herd. Well, thank you very much.

Steve: Hi, I’m Steve Maylish commercial officer of Fusion Biotec.

Bruce: I’m Bruce Sargent, CTO and CEO of Fusion Biotec. We’re here.

Meghan: So tell me a little bit about why you came to this show and what you think about it.

Steve: Well, the reason why we came to the show is because Fusion Biotec does instrumentation and our core confidence is diagnostics so we tend to work with groups that do like Lab on a Chip and Micro fluidics and we provide the instruments that goes around it. Part of the reason is to come down and see the show. It’s our first time here. The other part of the reason is to see who the players are and what they offer.

Meghan: So what do you think is beneficial for the first time entrepreneur that’s looking to get into micro fluidics?

Steve: This is a great show that gets exposure to all the different technologies that we use to do these chips and how they work and who makes them and how they’re made.

Bruce: We know a number of these speakers and have worked with the number of the groups for a long time, so if someone comes to the show and sits in to the presentation or listening to the folks to the industry for 10, 20 or 25 years or so.

Meghan: That’s good. Have you seen breakthrough? Okay, no you haven’t.

Bruce: My first thing here is that you keep seeing every year, more and more people are getting into the space and you keep seeing more people.

Meghan: Okay, so I will start over and talk about that. What are some of the trends that you’ve seen in lab on a chip and micro fluidics, or is it a growing industry?

Steve: Well, it is interesting that you mention that Meghan. One of the things I’ve noticed even is that you start seeing more folks that are in the micro fluidics industry and in the disposable cartridges. So you’re seeing that in lab on a chip too that some of the groups that recently got into doing disposable cartridges are exhibiting here as well and some other shows. So it is a growing industry because this is just a growing area point of care that’s been growing for the last 15-20 years now, the public continue to grow and I think the last article I read it should be growing 10% a year so it’s a good growth here.

Meghan: Yeah a few years ago, it was all about lab on a chip. It’s still about lab on a chip but then you started to see organ on a chip and then now there’s body on a chip. It’s definitely progressing.

Steve: Yeah, there’s the implantable chips now for artificial redness, they’re coming up with small implantables to go around nerves for nerve stimulation. So whether it is microfluidics, whether it’s a lab on a chip or other implantable chips, I think there’s a lot of growth in this space.

Donald: Hi, this is Donald from Lasix Micromed Solutions Group. It’s a great year this year at the lab on a chip. The assembly of the show here at the conference but you got to meet a lot of people, lot of talks going on so very enjoyable show.

Meghan: What is the most intriguing thing that you saw this year?

Donald: Well the key thing here is all the different technologies that are going on and how they’re gonna relate with the things that the people are trying to develop and design. It’s kind of fun being involved being with the team of network of people that can do all these types of things.

Meghan: Good. Well, thank you!

Donald: You’re welcome!

Meghan: So my next guest that you’ll hear is Ned from Plasmotica, brings up a lot of points. I know that sometimes you guys are struggling with coz I’ve heard it before. So I want you to listen carefully to what he has. He didn’t come from the Science industry. He started in the semiconductor industry and songs some opportunites going on over there that really could be applicable to science. He has somewhat having a hard time getting there, getting connected to the right people, learning the language in his particular niche that he really needs to advance his product forward. And I am working on that. I really wanna help people with that. If you have any other feedback in addition to what he’s saying, I’d like to hear it. You can tweet me in. It’s @meghanmalonso or you can email me at malonso@imua-services.com I love to hear and I am launching a beta program this fall that addresses a lot of these issues. If you’re interested in that, I am offering ten spots at no charge in exchange for feedback and then when the program launches for real you get to take that version for free also. To learn more about that, you can text the word INVENTION to 44222 that’s all one word INVENTION to the number 44222 or you can check it out on the website. You can go to imua-services.com/iipp/ that’s double ‘I’ double ‘P’ for Invention Idea for Profitable Product. So without further ado, here’s Ned.

Meghan: I have Ned Saleh with me of Plasmotica. Ned, tell us a little bit about what you’re working on.

Ned: Hi Meghan, good to see you again. Thanks for this opportunity. So Plasmotica is a new start up. We are at seed funding and we are located at NVS Silicon Valley in between San Jose and Burkley. We basically invented new technology for surface treatment using proprietary microplasma probes. Our niche really is selective high resolution treatment of surfaces, columns, pillars, channels and even blank substrates. We focus on dimensions below 200 microns where conventional plasma treatment is not possible or too destructive for substrates. We know this is an emerging need in the market as applications are trending toward small dimensions and various bio-applications. So we are out talking about our technology, learning about opportunities that we can synergize with. We come from mostly semiconductor fabrication background, so we bring a lot of techniques of processing instructions yield improvement from the semi conduction industry where dimensions really make a lot of difference in micro fluidics and various bio engineering applications where small dimensions functionalization of these dimensions enables a lot of applications that where thought inaccessible before because of the lack of the both fabrication and functionalization technology.

Meghan: Yeah, that’s really great. I am always a big advocate of looking what other industries are doing and how we can steal or how we can look at what someone is doing and bring it over to biotech and medical diagnostics. So what’s one of the biggest struggles you’ve had as a start up unfamiliar with biotech and micro fluidics space that you can share with our listeners and maybe give them some tips about.

Ned: Yeah, actually we had challenges across the board. As I mention the knowhow of microfabrication and the few micron level, maybe ten micron are going down to submicron as you might imagine the sequencing application would require. A lot of these techniques come from conventional semiconduction fabrication where technicians, engineers, and scientists came from engineering background with very little knowledge in biology or medical application. So what is the main challenges that we had is we knew our technology will be enabling in the micro fluidics and bio-engineering applications but we would not be able to access these applications on markets, the specific opportunities and building business model and investor pitch were not very clear to us so we had to outreach, learn by mistakes, the conventional thinking from the semiconductor industry doesn’t really work most of the time. For example, thinking along increasing value of your sample along the lines of Moore’s Law where densification reduces value of an item or unit and that economics of value would basically expand the proliferation opportunity. It doesn’t quite work that way if there are certain limitations in the bio-engineering specifically micro fluidics world where the Moore’s Law thinking has to be sometimes to be specifically modified but still it works. If you can invent technology that enables fabrication inspection functionalization and yield improvement it would still be very useful. So reaching out to the unmet needs in the micro fluidics various bio-engineering applications was not easy. It’s a sector of practitioners that we usually don’t see, don’t know, we haven’t been in them in grad school, we haven’t worked for these companies, we don’t go to their conferences. So that was the barrier that we need to penetrate to understand their needs where value propositions have to be made. Reaching to investors in that sector also was not obvious to us. We were asking the wrong set of investors from other fields, from software and semiconductor industry who did not appreciate the value of our product. Reaching out to investors, putting together an effective business plan and investment pitch was one of the challenges. Once we have learned about that the hard way of several years of pitching to where we are actually successful in raising seed funds that would help us work fulltime for our start up. The next challenge was to find the right set of vendors and fast prototyping companies to work with. And again we had to make a number of mistakes to find the right one for us. So I think this journey which doesn’t stop there, we have challenges in market penetration. This journey can be shortened, if there’s a gap to bridge to bring the entrepreneurs from the semiconductor industry into bio-engineering across the board really. So it’s everything putting together a pitch, indentifying market opportunities, the technologies that can be transferred from the semiconductor industry into micro fluidics or bio-engineering need to be better indentified. Putting together start ups with the appropriate boards also is another filed that we are struggling with. So I think there’s a gap that would widen with time as the need for more nano technology sensors and micro fluidics applications is increasing this gap in bringing entrepreneurs to continue to increase. This is an opportunity for a company like Toolbox to provide help for entrepreneurs.

Meghan: Yeah. Well thank you for all that feedback and I am planning on putting some resources on the website. So if you check out imua-services.com will be some resources exactly for that. Well thank you so much. It was awesome to speak with you today.

Ned: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Meghan: Well that wraps up the audio for Lab on a Chip Conference 2016. If you found this pretty interesting and you want me to cover other conferences, any in particular that are coming up just let me know. I am more than happy to reach out to conference organizers and see if I can have permission to do that and let you guys know about it and give you the full report even more in depth than this as I am growing this part of my business. Happy to have you with me today, have a great rest of the week and until the next episode, Imua!

Recorder: Mahalo for joining us. If you’re new to riding the waves of medical device product development, or if you’ve been in development for a while already, Inspired by Imua is here to surf with you. Want to be a master of the waves? Text hang ten that’s all one word H-A-N-G-T-E-N to 44222. We’ll send you the most common wipeouts companies make in product development so you can avoid them and reach master wave status. Again, that’s hang ten to 44222. We publish a new episode every Tuesday, so catch us at Inspiredbyimua.com. Imua!

About the Author

Meghan M. Alonso

Meghan M. Alonso, referred to by Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington as a medical device development expert, is known for her award winning medical device podcast, Inspired by Imua, the chapter she wrote in best selling book “Put a Shark in Your Tank, and her valuable connections in the medical industry. According to the Huffington Post, she helps clients navigate the complicated process of bringing their ideas to the marketplace. She’s a patriotic military wife, pet parent, founder and co-founder of 4 successful companies who thrives on guiding medical device and IVD companies through development and manufacturing.

When she isn’t helping others, Meghan is hard at work on her MBA she is pursuing from Auburn University, staying active with her adorable husky Abby, crossfitting, enjoying great restaurants and fine wine with her husband, and soaking up the sun the nearest beach.

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