Daylight Solutions, USA
1. Describe the profound impact your technology – as part of an end-user product – has had on Society. How has the population been impacted by your technology. This could be behavioral, economical, societal, etc.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and affects millions of people across the globe every year. Early detection of cancer has been shown to drastically increase the chance of survival. Find the disease early and survival rates are high. Discover the disease late and it’s much more likely to be fatal. Most detection methods are based on visual analysis of the morphology of excised cells and tissue. However, research has shown that subtle biochemical changes are present in early cancer cells and these changes can be detected long before any visual changes are observable. Newer detection methods may be based on biochemical analysis but involve costly, complex, and time consuming sample preparation and analysis. The SperoTM microscope provides a rapid, label-free method of analyzing biochemical signatures in biological samples. This instrument can be used to detect cancer at its earliest stages, leading to drastically improved outcomes for patients.
2. Tell us about how your technology is unique? What makes it stand out? How do you differentiate it from other similar technologies?
Infrared analysis of cells and tissue is an existing technique to analyze the biochemical composition of samples. Current instruments are primarily based around Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) methods, which use a globar light source for illumination. The Spero microscope uses an entirely new approach by incorporating a tunable mid-infrared laser source. This QCL source is orders of magnitude brighter than a globar, which enables higher resolution imagery, larger fields of view, and dramatically reduced data acquisition times. The Spero microscope can produce a result in minutes that would take hours on a high-end FTIR microscope. In addition, the tunable source enables new imaging modalities that simply aren’t possible with existing instruments. These include the ability to do live imaging and also sparse collection over a user-selectable array of wavelengths. This provides the user with the ability to do real-time scanning for the absence or presence of cancer-related biomarkers.
3. When first launched, did your technology make a transformational change for the end-user or was it an advancement of the prior art? Describe this.
The Spero microscope was launched in March 2014 but the initial response clearly demonstrates that a transformational change is in progress. The capabilities of the instrument directly overcome the key limitations of existing microscopes that have been preventing infrared imaging methods from seeing large-scale adoption in clinical settings. Reducing analysis times from hours to minutes has a dramatic impact on the practicality of these techniques and can even make intra-operative analysis feasible. And the ability to perform live infrared imaging is already proving to be hugely powerful in enabling diagnostic methods that weren’t previously possible.
4. Give a specific example (with company names) of the buying chain for your product/technology once you sell it to the next level buyer. Provide an example of the succession of companies your product goes through, ultimately to get to an end-user.
The current focus for the Spero microscope is in the research market so the buying chain is likely to begin with an academic researcher. For example, we have sold an instrument to Rice University to conduct some cutting edge research on breast cancer. We expect a close collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center, who may contribute to the research by providing clinical samples or validation analysis with other techniques. Based on the results, the instrument may be transitioned into pre-clinical trials at MD Anderson and ideally would be integrated into cancer centers and hospitals around the country such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins.
5. In which vertical market(s) would you classify the end-users of this technology?
6. If other, please write in the specific market.
7. Give us your one sentence “elevator pitch” you would use to tell a non-technical person about your technology and the critical role it plays in Society.
The Spero microscope provides an entirely new method to quickly screen for the earliest signs of cancer, providing patients and care providers with rapid, reliable answers when they need them most.
8. Surprise Us! What else should we know about your product/technology?
Spero is a beachhead product that will bring a variety of new instruments to the Life Sciences market. The pioneering work of Daylight Solutions in commercializing QCL technology is the key enabler in realizing these products. High-throughput screening, in-vivo probes, and others will all be possible by leveraging this core technology. And while we’re currently focused on biomedical applications, this platform will also dramatically impact other markets in the industrial space.
9. Attachments are welcome but not required. These could be photographs, videos, PowerPoint files, website links, etc. that further demonstrate the value of your technology. Limit of 3.