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Posted: July 10, 2008
Washington University Researchers Start Nanotechnology Firm PixelEXX Systems
(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnology company PixelEXX Systems has been launched by Washington University in St. Louis researchers Dr. Samuel Wickline, Stuart Solin, Kirk Wallace and Mike Hughes to bring imaging nanoarrays to market.
The technology holds potential for cancer and drug research, according to a release from Washington University and BioGenerator, a nonprofit corporation that facilitates the formation of plant and life science companies in the St. Louis area.
"Nanoarrays are a new way of imaging cells," Wickline said in a statement. "A researcher can look at a living cell with nano-sized sensors to get a more detailed picture of the cell, its internal structures, and how those parts function."
The nanosensors can use light and sound to create accurate images of the living cell's inner structures and measure the changes in electrical charges as the structures interact, he said. The result is an improved 3-D picture of how a cell reacts to stimuli, such as a drug, in real time.
"Pharmaceutical companies then will be able to study the effects of their drugs on the body's smallest functional unit, the cell, to better determine a drug's safety and efficacy," he said.
The nanosensor technology harnesses the researchers recent discovery of the "EXX phenomena," Solin said in a statement. "That is, at the nanoscale certain materials may be engineered to be extraordinarily sensitive to physical properties, such as electroconductance. We are able to build an array of these nanosensors that will detect and measure multiple different physical properties, simultaneously and at the cellular level."
Among the products PixelEXX founders envision is an inexpensive solid-state device that a researcher can use, along with a PC, to generate accurate images of the physical features of the cell while measuring changes in the cell's biochemistry, electrical charges and electromagnetic fields. That would combine the features and capabilities of larger and more expensive tools.
Nanosensors for use in high-throughput screening for drug candidates are other possible products from PixelEXX.
PixelEXX will focus on prototype development over the next 12 to 18 months, according to the release.
The nanoarray technology was discovered at Washington University, a private teaching and research university in St. Louis, which has licensed it to PixelEXX. Privately funded BioGenerator provided seed capital for the new venture.