Swiss med-tech start-up aims to detect allergies in 15 minutes

27 Apr 2012

Abionic's portable biomedical device

Abionic, a spin-out from EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, has just closed a 2m Swiss francs first financing round. The start-up is pioneering a portable biomedical device for medics to pinpoint allergies in less than 20 minutes.

EPFL said today that Abionic’s technology could be commercialised by 2013.

The company closed its funding round after it obtained 2m Swiss francs from private and institutional investors, including MedHoldings, Polytech Ventures, Blue Ocean Ventures, Fongit Seed Invest and Business Angels Switzerland.

According to Abionic, its biomedical device is based on its proprietary nanofluidic biosensor technologies. The company said the device has been designed to detect allergies such as pollen, food and allergies to domestic animals.

It said the device works by reading the biosensors, and can provide an allergy diagnostic readout within 15 minutes based on a single drop of blood.

So who is behind the start-up? Abionic was founded by Dr Nicolas Durand, CEO, Dr Iwan Märki, CTO, and Prof Theo Lasser, an expert in biomedical optics and professor at EPFL. The company was incorporated as a Swiss SA (Société Anonyme) in September 2010. It is based in Lausanne. Its founders have described the start-up as traversing the field of med tech, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

As for the device itself, EPFL described it as resembling a DVD player equipped with a touchscreen.

The institute said the device could have the potential to free millions of people throughout the world from having to undergo skin tests for allergies.

It said the allergy testing via Abionic’s device works by mixing a few drops of a reagent with a blood sample. The preparation is placed in a capsule that contains ten biochips, each of which is prepared with a different allergen. The tiny device is mounted on a plastic surface in the form of a CD and then ‘read’ by a laser.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic