ALBUQUERQUE, NM – DECEMBER 3, 2014 Eta Diagnostics, Inc. (ETAD), an Albuquerque start-up developing and commercializing high throughput “massively parallel” flow cytometry, has announced its successful closing on a seed round of funding. The company was formed in 2013 and is licensing technology from STC.UNM that was invented at the University of New Mexico by Drs. Steven Graves and Andrew Shreve from the Center for Biomedical Engineering. The technology has micro-fluidic and optical innovations that allow for high flow and detection rates that are 50-100X faster than single channel serial flow cytometers. To read more about the company’s future plans, see its press release, “ETA Diagnostics Closes $300,000 Seed Round,” reprinted below. Also see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s December 10, 2014 article, “ABQ’s Eta Diagnostics Raises $300,000 in Seed Funding,” from the Albuquerque Journal, reprinted below.
ETA Diagnostics Closes $300,000 Seed Round
Albuquerque, NM, December 2, 2014 – Eta Diagnostics, Inc. (ETAD) today announced the successful closing of its $300,000 Seed Round of equity fund raising. Led by a NY-based individual angel investor, the Round will allow ETAD to complete the exclusive licensing of four key patents from the University of New Mexico. It will also provide the capital necessary for the Company to build, test, and market its first commercial offering, a massively parallel flow cytometer for purity and sterility monitoring in high volumetric throughput industrial applications.
Commenting on the announcement, ETAD President & CEO Michael J. Cumbo said, “We are delighted by the support of the out-of-state angels who powered our Seed Round. The proceeds will allow us to significantly improve upon and commercialize UNM’s foundational intellectual property in multi-node acoustic focusing of fluid-borne biological cells and particles, spatially correlated parallel optical detection, and negative acoustic contrast particles. On the basis of ETAD’s good tech transfer progress to-date with STC.UNM, the Company’s first high throughput industrial prototype will be ready for evaluation by customers within three months.”
Depending upon the industrial market’s adoption rate of ETAD’s technology, Dr. Cumbo expects that the Company will hire between four and eight new employees in Albuquerque during 2015. “Given the 60-year plus history of flow cytometry R&D at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico has proven to be a persistently good place to advance this enabling life science measurement technology. For the past year, ETAD has been quietly bootstrapping the development of massively parallel flow cytometry. ETAD’s Seed Round investors have now positioned us to significantly accelerate our progress while keeping the job creation potential here in New Mexico, where so much relevant technical talent still resides.”
While ETAD’s initial products will target process monitoring in pharmaceutical manufacturing and the food and beverage industry, its long-term prospects are most intriguing in the detection of rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in human blood. Dr. Cumbo predicts that ETAD will ultimately revolutionize the diagnosis and prognosis of many forms of cancer and other rare cell indicated diseases. He said “Although several years of medical research and clinical validation remain to be done, the incorporation of a fast and low-cost massively parallel flow cytometry assessment of CTCs in every routinely drawn blood sample holds the promise of dramatically improving the early detection and treatment of cancer.”
About ETA Diagnostics, Inc.
Eta Diagnostics, Inc. (ETAD) is a New Mexico startup devoted to the development and commercialization of high throughput “massively parallel” flow cytometry. It was co-founded in 2013 by Michael J. Cumbo, a veteran of the optics and photonics industry, and two University of New Mexico faculty members, Steven W. Graves and Andrew P. Shreve. ETAD is currently located in the Albuquerque incubator of Sandia Electro-Optics Corporation. For more information, please send an email to Info@EtaDiagnostics.com or call 505-816-0211.
Joyce R. Cumbo
© Copyright 2014 ETA Diagnostics, Inc. All rights reserved.
ABQ’s Eta Diagnostics raises $300,000 in seed funding
Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
New technology from the University of New Mexico that could radically speed the analysis of tissue samples for medical diagnostics and drug discovery is a step closer to market thanks to a $300,000 round of funding for local startup company Eta Diagnostics Inc.
Eta, which formed last year to commercialize UNM’s technology, will use the seed round to build a commercial prototype of a new cytometer, or cell meter, that could potentially screen tissue samples at a superfast rate of up to one million cells per second.
“The proceeds will allow us to significantly improve upon and commercialize UNM’s foundational intellectual property,” said Eta President and CEO Michael J. Cumbo. “The company’s first high throughput industrial prototype will be ready for evaluation by customers within three months.”
The company already used part of the seed money to convert a previous “option to license” UNM’s technology – which Eta received last year from the university – into what is now an “exclusive license” to take the technology to market.
“We just signed the agreements with them,” said STC President and CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “We’re really excited about their accomplishments to date. They’re getting some really good feedback from potential customers.”
Eta has signed two non-disclosure agreements with two large companies that are interested in using the cytometer technology, and it’s now negotiating a similar agreement with a third firm.
“We have three blue chip life science customers,” Cumbo said. “They’re publicly traded, well-known companies in our field.”
Such interest is not surprising, since flow cytometers are broadly used for clinical research worldwide. Cytometers typically allow users to screen tens of thousands of cells per second in fluids that are fed through the machines.
UNM, however, has created an acoustic process that uses sound waves to separate the fluids into multiple channels as they flow through the machine, thus allowing the researchers to screen a lot more tissue samples at once. And, UNM created a highly advanced optical system capable of screening all those extra samples simultaneously, potentially permitting the analysis of hundreds of thousands of cells per second.
Eta eventually wants to sell the machine for use in detecting cancers in human blood samples. But to do that, it must further upgrade the optical system to rapidly locate rare tumor cells hidden among billions of normal ones, Cumbo said.
The company’s first prototype, then, will be aimed at less-sensitive detection tasks, such as screening for bacteria or contamination in manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries.
“Real-time purity and sterility monitoring could save them a lot of money,” Cumbo said.
Next year, Eta will raise another $3 million in venture funding, but the company could face pressure to relocate out of state, since it had difficulty getting in-state investors to participate even in the seed round, and investors in other places often want companies to operate nearby them.
“I’m guardedly optimistic that we’ll find investors who will allow us to stay here,” Cumbo said. “But there are no guarantees.”
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