Sweden-based AcouSort, a company that develops, produces and sells standalone laboratory products and integrated OEM solutions, announced that it has received SEK 26M (approximately €2.44M) from the European Innovation Council (EIC) for its AcouSome project.
Of the total funds, SEK 12.2M (nearly €1.14M) will go to AcouSort directly, while the remaining funds will be given to its collaborators Lund University, DTU, and Day One. The project will run for 36 months and is fully funded by the EU.
“Developing diagnostics of the future”
AcouSort is focused on developing products and solutions for the integrated preparation of biological samples. With the help of sound waves, the company’s products can separate blood cells, concentrate, purify and stain cells, exosomes and bacteria from biological samples.
Exosomes are nanoparticles that provide human cells with the ability to exchange important information. As they can provide ‘status reports’ on organs like the brain and heart. and critical information on tumour disorders, infectious diseases, pregnancy, and stem cell conditions, they have the potential to develop a new sector within diagnostics.
For discovering exosomes, James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas C. Sudhof shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Since then, a lot of research has been conducted in this area, but only a small number of useful applications have been created.
The grant from EIC will assist AcouSort in creating an acoustofluidic thin-film actuated chip for blood exosome separation.
AcouSort CEO, Torsten Freltoft, says, “Exosomes represent a fantastic and largely untapped opportunity to provide healthcare with dramatically enhanced diagnostic tools. Long-term, exosome-based diagnostics represent a major business opportunity for AcouSort. If the AcouSome project is as successful as we plan it to be, we will already, in 2026, have access to a research market estimated at $661M. From there, the road is paved to the much bigger exosome diagnostics market.”
The AcouSome project
The aim of the project is to develop a technology which separates exosomes from blood to enable robust and reliable exosome-based diagnostics. If the experiment is successful, the results might create a brand-new and very promising diagnostics sector, claims the company.
There are currently no technologies that are effective for automatically separating exosomes from whole blood. The AcouSome project’s goal is to create a part that enables a one-step, completely automated procedure.
Since blood may be very contagious, it is important to develop an economical disposable product to reduce the danger of contamination associated with all reusable tools. Hence, one aspect of the project is to create a manufacturing platform that can scale up product volumes to reach a low unit cost.
Before being approved, the project underwent a rigorous two-step examination procedure. The final step involved pitching the proposal in front of a panel of six independent specialists.
According to the quotation from the specialist panel report, “The proposed solution has a high degree of novelty and disruptiveness and has the potential to develop a new market related to the emerging sector of exosome-based diagnostics. Therefore, the timing is right in terms of the feasibility and the technological readiness.”
About AcouSort and how was it born
AcouSort’s goal is to transform the healthcare industry via the application of its technologies. The company claims that its ability to automate and integrate sample processing steps will allow for a new generation of analytical and diagnostic devices.
Patient samples can be analysed directly at the Point-of-Care (POC) systems instead of at central laboratories, meaning the patient gets the results immediately. Through collaborations with life-science companies AcouSort’s technology can eliminate manual handling steps while saving time, money, and ultimately – lives.
The Department of Biomedical Engineering at Lund University has been doing research and developing the basic technology behind AcouSort for more than 20 years, under the direction of Professor Thomas Laurell. As the technology matured, its capabilities generated significant interest from life science companies.
In December 2010, AcouSort was founded in order to commercialise the research. The founders were professor Laurell and three other Lund University professors Hans Lilja (clinical chemistry), Patrik Brundin (neuroscience) and Stefan Scheding (haematology).
The technology of the company’s products is acoustofluidics, where sound waves and microfluidics enable automated handling of samples in a range of application areas, from research on new biomarkers to the development of new diagnostic systems for near-patient testing – the so-called Point-of-Care (POC) systems.
The company’s commercialisation strategy is based on the proven business model of providing separation modules to diagnostic system manufacturers for integrated sample preparation as well as to continue the commercialisation of the company’s research instruments.
With the help of the company’s products and the development of point-of-care tests, new diagnostic systems and treatments are enabled, addressing some of the most challenging disease areas, including cancer, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.