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22 October, 2021 - 13:43 By Tony Quested

Mursla advances novel nanoelectronics detection technology

Cambridge liquid biopsy company Mursla has won a key patent protection for what is believed to be unique technology harnessing the promising diagnostic power of exosomes.

Mursla says its proposition demonstrates potential application for the detection of many diseases, including cancer.

The patent shields its novel nanoelectronics-based sensitive detection method for exosomes.

Exosomes, usually 50-150 nm in diameter, are heterogenous vesicles (diverse bubbles) naturally secreted by cells during their lives. 

They have been shown to reflect the state of their cellular sources, transporting specific ‘-omics’ information (proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and metabolites) either locally or to distant sites via the circulatory system. Their content is conveniently accessible via the sampling of biological fluids (liquid biopsies), including blood draws.

Exosomes are increasingly recognised as information-rich biomarkers with the potential to detect many different diseases (particularly cancer and others, such as degenerative diseases) from early-onset. 

However, the vast potential of exosomes has not yet been realised due to technological limitations, such as difficulty in selecting disease-related exosomes, insufficient analytical sensitivity and/or the low sample throughput. 

Mursla’s technology is a proprietary nanoelectronics approach for the sensitive detection of disease-related exosomes in fluids. 

Prepared liquid biopsy samples are introduced onto a nanochip composed of many nanogap electrodes (nanosensors), each one able to sense and attract nanoparticle-tagged exosomes within seconds via a ‘sink effect’. 

By applying an AC (alternating current) voltage, the electrodes can generate a non-uniform electric field that polarises specific nanoparticles, drawing them towards the nanogap electrodes via dielectrophoresis. 

After the attraction, an electrical activation step is performed, fusing the electrodes with the nanoparticles between the nanogaps when present, creating an ‘electrical bridge’ and increasing the current significantly. 

Using an algorithm based on pre-established nanoparticle calibration curves the concentration of nanoparticles can be accurately calculated and the concentration of tagged exosomes derived. 

This technology is part of ExoPheno™, Mursla’s breakthrough integrated platform for the discovery and profiling of exosome phenotypes in diseases.

Pierre Arsène, founder & CEO, Mursla said: “This newly granted patent is a very positive step forward for our home-grown patent portfolio of exosome technologies, with more pending. 

“We now have many reasons to believe that the exciting clinical translation of exosomes into the clinic has not been constrained by their biology, but rather by our own technological capabilities. 

“With the correct, accurate tools, we could detect diseases non-invasively in a new way for the prognosis, diagnosis, stratification and treatment monitoring of patients. That is not only for cancer but also neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer’s, immunology and cardiovascular diseases.”

This novel detection approach has been conceived for exponential chip manufacturing scalability in that:-

  • It does not require any chemical surface modification (that other surface-based sensors usually require) and avoids costly and time-consuming chemistry optimisation
  • The very high signal-to-noise ratio of the activated vs non-activated nanosensors ensures high compatibility with the latest MOSFET transistor systems. 

Arsène said: “Our next generation chip will integrate millions of nanosensors onto each chip, resulting in an unprecedented detection resolution.

“This will give us the firepower required for the detection of diseases with very low numbers of specific exosomes in blood. The chip performance will only be limited by Moore’s Law - pronounced Mur-s-la in Japanese – which is what inspired our company name.”

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